Gamma-Linolenic acid or GLA is an anti-inflammatory fatty acid and is largely found in vegetable oils such as hemp seed oil, evening primrose oil, blackcurrant seed oil, and borage seed oil. Other sources include leafy green vegetables, nuts, and breast milk.
Inflammation is essentially a process in which the white blood cells in the body produce substances to help protect us from infections that may be caused by foreign organisms such as bacteria and viruses. Inflammation is of two main kinds namely acute inflammation and chronic inflammation. Acute inflammation is healthy and is required by the body to heal cuts, wounds, and open lesions.
On the other hand, chronic inflammation is a lengthened inflammatory response, which is characterized by the progressive change in the form of cells present at the inflammation site. Chronic inflammation is identified by the simultaneous repair and destruction of the tissues as a result of the inflammatory response.
Chronic inflammation is the root cause of many serious and life-threatening diseases such as cancer, diabetes, cardiovascular disease, neurological diseases, cardiovascular diseases, autoimmune diseases, arthritis, and Alzheimer’s disease, etc. All these diseases have inflammatory components common in them.
It is important to note that the diet of a person affects the possibility of chronic inflammation in a number of ways. Amongst dietary components, fat has been the primary factor that has affected health. Fats such as saturated fats and trans fatty acids have been associated with causing obesity, diabetes, heart diseases and cancer, while poly-unsaturated fatty acids (PUFAs) have demonstrated an generally positive influence on overall health and well being.
How Does GLA Fight Inflammation?
The linoleic acid in the body produces Gamma linolenic acid. Linolenic acid is an essential Omega-6 fatty acid and is catalyzed by the delta-6-desaturase enzyme. It is then further metabolized and undergoes oxidative metabolism, because of which anti-inflammatory eicosanoids are produced in the body.
When GLA is consumed as a dietary supplement, it gets further metabolized to dihomogamma linlenic acid (DGLA) which then undergoes a reaction called oxidative metabolism. This oxidation reaction is catalyzed by the enzymes cyclooxygenases and lipoxygenases so that anti-inflammatory eicosanoids can be produced. GLA and its metabolites, subsequently, influence different gene expressions where gene products and matrix proteins’ levels are regulated and standardized. Therefore, GLA is highly recommended and more than often prescribed to patients of diseases which are primarily caused by chronic inflammation. The anti-inflammatory effects of the GLA help patients of cancer, arthritis, heart disease and respiratory disease among many others.