Arachidonic Acid Good Or Bad:
I remember watching the film Arachnophobia back in the 90s. It was a comedy horror about giant toxic spiders on a murder spree. Needless to say, the mood around the small California town in the film was markedly fearful and depressed.
Just as scary is too much of the similar-sounding – arachidonic acid (AA). Dr. Greger explains what AA does in this NutritionFacts video, “Inflammation is one way our bodies fight off infection. So, we do need some arachidonic acid to trigger the inflammatory cascade.”
But consuming more AA than what your body naturally produces, he warns, “… may inflame your brain.”
Imagine a spider invading your brain and inflaming it with every eight-legged step! Since AA is what our body uses to produce inflammatory compounds, like prostaglandins, an excessive AA level may lead to some truly devastating consequences, including:
a greater likelihood of suicide
major depressive episodes
cancer (breast, colon, lung, head and neck)
Turn AA loose in a petri dish seeded with prostate cancer cells? It appears to stimulate their growth as much as 200 percent.
How can you limit your AA intake? Dr. Greger lists the things to especially avoid:
omega-6 rich oils (corn oil, sunflower, safflower, cottonseed)
Notice what’s not on the list: Whole, plant-based foods. This Nutrition Facts video discussed an Arizona State University Department of Nutrition study showing that its omnivore subjects were consuming 9 times more AA than their vegetarian counterparts.
We do have the option of using aspirin to suppress the impact of AA. In Dr. Greger’s words, “That’s how anti-inflammatory drugs like aspirin and ibuprofen work—by interfering with the conversion of arachidonic acid into compounds that produce inflammation, pain, and swelling.”
But is it really wise to depend on drugs to counteract the frightening effects of AA overload?
More on this tomorrow!