14 May Study adds to evidence that omega-3 may support healthy insulin function
One of the hardest parts about aging is discovering that your body doesn’t function the way it normally does. Your vision may be weaker, your hearing may be fading and your joints may ache. More importantly, your heart may not pump blood as efficiently as it used to, and your cells may not be able to metabolize sugar for energy as they once could. The latter scenario is often a result of Type 2 diabetes, in which the cells can’t use insulin to take sugar from the blood, causing the sugar to build up and drive other health complications.
Previously, scientists theorized that omega-3 fatty acids may support healthy insulin function. One recent study from Canada brings researchers another step closer to finding out how.
Molecule has same effect as exercise
The authors of the new study had looked at the effects of omega-3 before, and asserted that the nutrient can maintain good insulin function because of a molecule known as protectin D1. Further research revealed that a similar molecule called PDX can cause muscle cells to release IL-6, a substance that makes the liver reduce its sugar production while making the muscles absorb the sugar that’s already in the blood. Essentially, these effects are similar to what happens to blood sugar during exercise. In the case of people who live with diabetes and have problems controlling their blood sugar, this can be a good thing.
To test their theory out, the scientists looked at laboratory mice that were obese and had diabetes. After the rodents were given PDX, their cells were able to use insulin to absorb sugar properly.
As promising as these results are, the researchers are quick to point out that more studies in humans are needed, and that these molecules related to omega-3 fatty acids should not be considered a substitute for exercise because physical activity has other positive effects on the body that go beyond maintaining insulin function.
Chronically high blood sugar caused by Type 2 diabetes is dangerous because it can damage the tiny blood vessels that nourish every organ. People who can’t control their blood sugar may go blind, have kidney problems and may need limbs amputated because of infected wounds that were slow to heal.
Living with Type 2 diabetes means making adjustments in everyday life that can help maintain optimal insulin function. In addition to taking any medications prescribed by a doctor, individuals can eat healthier foods, exercise more often and begin a fish oil supplement regimen.