Eating fish prevents chronic inflammatory diseases

Dariush Mozaffarian, a Harvard epidemiologist, has published a study on the health benefits of omega-3 fatty acid found in fish.

Eating fish is protective against atherosclerosis and stroke.

There is no discussion of microbiota in this study, but it interesting to see how human epidemiology data are in sync with studies of the effects of omega-3 fats on gut microbiota.

There is less and less mystery about what constitutes a healthy diet. Red meat, in general, shortens life spans. Processed meat may be to blame for the majority of that effect. Wild marine fish high in omega 3 fatty acids, by contrast, protects against atherosclerosis. Diets high in fish are associated with longevity.

Other processed foods high in simple sugars, are likewise associated with obesity, diabetes and chronic inflammatory diseases. Complex carbohydrates, and food rich in polyphenols by contrast prevent those diseases. The microbiota are the key to understanding these varied effects.

It is important to understand that the Paleolithic diet, which is intuitively attractive, is insufficient to explain all the health effects of these foods. In particular, the divergent inflammatory effects of fatty acids argue for an alternative viewpoint, that our immune system has evolved to recognize commonly consumed nutrients and makes adjustments depending on how those foods influence microbiota. That is the basis for the nutrient signaling model of dietary inflammation.

Joe Alcock MD

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