In the recent issue of the Journal of the American Dietetic Association, Harvard Medical School and Harvard School of Public Health researchers found that dietary intake of polyunsaturated fatty acids (PUFAs) such as fish oil, is known to have anti-inflammatory properties and shows potential for treating and preventing periodontitis (gum disease). Other foods that contain significant amounts of polyunsaturated fats include: fatty fish, such as salmon, nuts, margarine, and peanut butter.
Gum disease, if left unchecked, may lead to the accumulation of bacteria, and potential bone loss. And while traditional treatments focus on bacterial infection, newer appoaches target the inflammatory response. But there may be another way: diet.
“We found that n-3 fatty acid intake, particularly docosahexaenoic (DHA) and eicosapentaenoic (EPA), are inversely associated with gum disease in the U.S. population,” said Asghar Z. Maqvi, MPH, MHS, Department of Medicine, Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center. “To date, the treatment of gum disease has primarily involved mechanical cleaning and local antibiotic application. Thus, a dietary therapy, if effective, might be a less expensive and safer method for the prevention and treatment of periodontitis. Given the evidence indicating a role for n-3 fatty acids in other chronic inflammatory conditions, it is possible that treating periodontitis with n-3 fatty acids could have the added benefit of preventing other chronic diseases associated with inflammation, including stroke as well.”
Data from the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES) was used. Investigators found that dietary intake of the PUFAs, DHA, and EPA were associated with a decreased prevalence of periodontitis, although linolenic (LNA) did not show this association, according to a news release by Science Daily.
CDA Journal, vol. 39, no. 3, p. 140.