Did you ever hear someone talk about taking cod liver oil when they were younger?
It doesn’t really sound very tasty, but fish oil supplements have come a long way from the spoon of cod liver oil. In fact, fish oil can now be easily found in pill form, and it’s one of the more well-known supplements out there.
However, chronic lung disease patients may not know how it can benefit them.
What Is it About Fish Oil That Can Benefit the Lungs?
Fish oil is beneficial because it’s packed full of vitamins called omega-3 fatty acids. Fatty acids are a building block for fat molecules, and they can be used to store energy. These fat components can also be used as an energy source by your body.
There are 3 types of fatty acids that your body needs, and these are omega-3, -6 and -9 fatty acids. The average diet typically allows people to get enough omega-6 and -9 fatty acids, and if necessary, your body can even make its own omega-9 fatty acids.
However, most people are omega-3 deficient, and your body must get these fatty acids from your diet.
How Do Omega-3s Benefit Lung Health?
It’s important to have the right balance of the 3 omega fatty acids, and getting enough omega-3s can be especially beneficial if you have a chronic lung disease.
1. They’re Inflammation Fighters
Omega-3 fatty acids from fish oil can benefit chronic lung disease patients by helping their bodies fight inflammation. Inflammation of lung and throat tissue is one common symptom of chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) and other chronic lung conditions.
Studies have shown that omega-3 fatty acids can help decrease the amount of inflammatory chemicals produced by the body, and this can help reduce lung inflammation and improve your ability to breathe.
2. They Help Treat Lung Infections
People with chronic lung diseases have a higher risk of developing a lung infection, such as pneumonia. Using fish oil supplements regularly may help reduce this risk.
In fact, omega-3 fatty acids have been shown to directly target a bacteria called nontypeable haemophilus influenzae (NTHi), and this bacteria is known to cause many lung infections in chronic lung disease patients.
3. They Can Decrease Depression and Anxiety
Patients with chronic lung diseases are often, understandably, anxious about their condition. They can also become depressed if their condition starts to decrease their independence and leads to a lower quality of life, and this is especially true if you don’t believe there is anything that can be done to treat your condition.
However, taking fish oil loaded with omega-3 fatty acids can help decrease both anxiety and depression.
Christine Kingsley, APRN is the Health and Wellness Director at the Lung Institute where she focuses on providing helpful online resources for people looking for information on various lung diseases, breathing exercises, and healthy lifestyle choices. She advocates for holistic care that involves working with your doctor to explore all options including traditional and alternative care while focusing on diet and exercise as proactive measures.