Inflammation & Fish Oils

Disclaimer “I'm not the greatest writer, I'm more of a numbers man. One thing I've learnt from all the CrossFit is, if you are rubbish at a particular skill you have to work at it. I'll apologise in advance for the grammatical errors.” - Dellus West 2012 - Osteopath London Bridge




There are two types of inflammation, classic inflammation and cellular inflammation. Classic inflammation generates an inflammatory response which we commonly associate with pain. The four classic signs of inflammation are heat, redness, swelling and pain. This is what we experience when there is trauma to an area, e.g. Delayed Onset Muscle Soreness post training (DOMS).


The common misconception of this type of inflammation is that it is BAD. In today's world of heavily marketed anti-inflammatory products, it's easy to see why the majority of people would say inflammation is a bad thing. Actually it's a good thing - It allows your body to close down a site of damage and make an attempt to repair the area.


Cellular inflammation on the other hand, is an ongoing low grade inflammation which disrupts hormonal signalling networks throughout the body. It is not perceived as pain but can lead to chronic diseases (Dr Barry Sears).


Fish Oils


Fish Oil has been found to be effective at preventing this global cellular inflammation which is widespread across the body. It is derived from the tissue of oily fish and contains omega 3 fatty acids called EPA and DHA. Fish don't actually produce omega 3 fatty acids, they get it from the micro-algae or other fish they have eaten. EPA inhibits an enzyme (arachidonic acid) in the body which is the primary mediator of cellular inflammation. Again in normal English, it prevents this enzyme working which causes cellular inflammation. DHA benefits the transmission of nerve signals within a cell and is especially important in the brain and eyes.


Choosing a Fish Oil


When choosing a fish oil its important to buy an effective product. Here are some tips:

  • Search for high concentrations of Omega 3 fatty acids (1300-2000mg).
  • Ensure the oil is derived from small deep water fish (larger fish acquire higher levels of metals such as mercury, the higher up the food chain generally the more toxic metals will contaminate the fish).
  • Store your fish oils in the fridge (heat will break down the bonds in the fatty acids rendering them in effective or rancid).


Here are some fish oil products I've tried and currently using: