Better insulin sensitivity

Earlier studies found omega-3 fish oil improves factors in metabolic syndrome and reduces chances for heart and circulatory diseases, but studies on how omega-3s might influence glucose metabolism and insulin sensitivity are inconclusive.

Doctors reviewed 17 fish oil studies covering 672 participants over the age of 18 with metabolic syndrome or type 2 diabetes. Metabolic syndrome includes factors such as excess fat around the waist, high blood pressure, high blood sugar, high triglyceride levels, and low levels of HDL—the “good” cholesterol—all of which increase chances for developing type 2 diabetes.

While there were no effects in those who already had type 2 diabetes, those with metabolic syndrome who had taken omega-3 fish oil supplements saw a 47 percent increase in insulin sensitivity—meaning the body needed less insulin to metabolize glucose in the bloodstream. The longer people took omega-3s, the greater the increase in insulin sensitivity.

Better brain blood flow

This is one of the first studies to explore the effects of omega-3s on cognition and brain physiology. In the study, doctors divided 166 participants into low- and high-levels of the omega-3s EPA and DHA. Researchers then scanned 128 regions of each participant’s brain, and everyone completed computerized tests of memory and cognition.

As blood flow to the brain—and levels of omega-3s in the brain— increased, participants did better on tests of cognition and memory. Doctors said the findings revealed a direct link between lower omega-3 levels and reduced brain blood flow to regions important for learning, memory, depression, and dementia.

Reference: Lipids in Health and Disease; 2017, Vol. 16, No. 131, Published Online
Natural Insights for Well Being December 2017

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