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Sinusitis involves inflammation of the sinuses. About 30 million cases of sinusitis occur in the United States annually, yet its cause can be difficult to detect. For a long time, it was thought that the sinuses were sterile, but scientists now know that microbes do exist in the sinuses. A recent study published in the journal Science Translational Medicine has found that, not only do microbes exist in the sinuses, but that a loss of microbial diversity occurs in those people with sinusitis when compared to healthy people.
Specifically, people with sinusitis had higher amounts of Cornebacterium tuburculostearicum, while healthy people were colonized with Lactobacillus sakei, a bacteria that helps prevent the development of sinusitis, based on previous studies. The lead researcher, Susan Lynch, suggests that the sinuses are home to a diverse microbiome, which includes beneficial bacteria that help protect against sinus infection.
Often, sinusitis is treated with antibiotics, yet the original cause of infection may not be bacterial at all. Sinusitis is one condition for which antibiotic overuse is cautioned against. Another author of the study, Andrew Goldberg, stated, “The premise for our understanding of chronic sinusitis and therapeutic treatment appears to be wrong, and a different therapeutic strategy seems appropriate.”
Although too early to draw conclusions about specific alternative treatments, this study alludes to the eventual use of probiotics in the treatment of sinusitis. More studies will be needed to determine what bacteria are helpful, and what treatment might work.
A recent study published in the journal Brain, Behavior, and Immunity found that four months of omega-3 fish oil supplementation—either 2.5 grams or 1.25 grams daily of omega-3s from fish oil—was found to help preserve telomeres in white blood cells of the immune system. Telomeres are tiny segments of DNA that shorten over time as a result of aging. The shorter the telomere, the more you age.
In the study, those people who improved their ratio of omega-6 to omega-3 fatty acids were most likely to also experience a lengthening of their telomeres as well as an average 15 percent reduction in oxidative stress. “The telomere finding is provocative in that it suggests the possibility that a nutritional supplement might actually make a difference in aging,” stated Jan Kiecolt-Glaser, professor of psychiatry and psychology at Ohio State and lead author of the study.
A previous article about this same study investigated the effects of the omega-3 supplementation on markers of inflammation, and found that omega-3 supplementation reduced inflammation. “Inflammation in particular is at the heart of so many health problems. Anything that reduces inflammation has a lot of potentially good spinoffs among older adults,” explained Glaser, “This finding strongly suggests that inflammation is what’s driving the changes in telomeres.”
Participants in both the high and low-dose groups experienced similar results, with the resulting improvement in omega-6 to omega-3 ratio the deciding factor of benefit. The Standard American Diet (SAD) contains an average omega-6 to omega-3 ratio of 10:1 to 25:1 (much more omega-6 than omega-3) whereas experts recommend consumption of 1:1 to 2:1 (almost equal amounts of omega-6 and omega-3) for maximum benefit.
If you want to know your omega-3 ratio, you can get it checked. The Omega-3 Index measures the level of omega-3, omega-6, and other fatty acids in your red blood cell membranes, and only requires a finger prick that you can do at home. Increasing your intake of omega-3 fats with fish oil supplements is a great way to optimize your Omega-3 Index.