As people age, chronic systemic inflammation can inflict degenerative effects throughout the body. A primary cause of this destructive cascade is the production of cell-signaling chemicals known as inflammatory cytokines. Along with these dangerous cytokines, imbalances of hormone-like messengers called prostaglandins also contribute to chronic inflammatory processes.
The body needs fatty acids to survive and is able to make all but two of them: linoleic acid, in the omega-6 family and linolenic acid, in the omega-3 family. These two fatty acids must be supplied by the diet and are therefore considered essential fatty acids (EFAs).
Omega-3 fatty acids, found in cold-water fish (and fish oil), and perilla and flaxseed oils, can be part of a healthy diet. Omega-3 oils contain the essential fatty acids eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) and docosahexaenoic acid (DHA), which are usually lacking in the typical Western diet that includes high amounts of omega-6 fats.
Omega-6 fatty acids are well supplied in the diet by meat and vegetable oils. However, not all omega-6 fatty acids are of equal value. Gamma linolenic acid (GLA), found in evening primrose oil, borage oil, and black currant oil is an important fatty acid that plays a beneficial role in healthy prostaglandin formation. What you eat also contributes to the production of inflammatory cytokines. Eating foods cooked at high temperature can cause the formation of advanced glycation end (AGE) products. Glycation is the binding of a protein molecule to a glucose molecule that results in the formation of damaged protein structures. As the damaged proteins accumulate, they activate the production of inflammatory cytokines. Presently there is no way to reverse the effects of glycation.
Health conscious people have been consuming a lot of borage oil to obtain GLA (gamma-linolenic acid), the parent of the biologically active DGLA (di-homo-gamma-linolenic acid). Life Extension has added 10 milligrams of sesame lignans to each capsule of Mega GLA borage oil. Sesame lignans not only increase beneficial DGLA, but they also help reduce production of pro-inflammatory arachidonic acid, which decreases the formation of destructive prostaglandin E2 and leukotriene B4.
Numerous studies document GLAâ€™s multiple health effects, but new information about the ability of sesame to prevent the conversion of GLA into arachidonic acid indicates that many more people may now be able to benefit from supplemental GLA.