OMEGA-3 AND BENEFITS IN DIABETES
We have all heard of omega-3 and that it is healthy for us. But why? How does it benefit our health? Here I hope to shed some light on why it is so important to include this fat in your diet1. Omega-3 fatty acids are known to have multiple health benefits. The human body is unable to make this essential fatty acid2, making it important for us to get it daily from our diet. There are three types of omega-3s: Eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA), Docosahexaenoic acid (DHA), and Alpha-linolenic acid (ALA), which is converted by the body into EPA and DHA1. Research suggests only a small amount can be made in the body with only 2-10 % of ALA being converted EPA & DHA3. Although all forms of omega-3 have benefits, Eicosapentaenoic Acid (EPA) and Docosahexaenoic Acid (DHA) have been well-researched and proven to provide the health benefits we associate with omega-3. These forms are the most biologically potent, being building blocks to many different molecules that play important roles in the functioning of various different systems within the body3. EPA and DHA are taken into many parts of the body, including cell membranes where they play a role in anti-inflammatory processes, as well as the fluidity of cell membranes3.Low intakes of dietary EPA and DHA has been linked to increased inflammatory processes, poor fetal development, general cardiovascular health and risk of the development of Alzheimer’s disease3. WHAT DOES THE RESEARCH SAY? General benefits1 Omega-3 is important across all stages of life, and it is essential for healthy aging3.A recent study found that insufficient intake of omega-3 may increase the risk of all-cause mortality4. Brain function1 Omega-3 is a key and essential structural component of the brain, where DHA is found in abundance3,4. It supports all areas of brain function, including brain development, attention and learning, cognitive health, memory support, and reduces symptoms of depression. A number of studies support the following findings:
- A decreased risk of cognitive impairment is achieved through intake of omega-3 from fish sources. There is an association between DHA (derived from fish) intake and a reduced risk of dementia and Alzheimer’s disease4.
- In older adults with mild memory complaints, the intake of DHA or a combination of DHA and EPA contributes to support memory health4.
- Omega-3 supplementation may be beneficial alongside antidepressant medications in people with Major Depressive Disorder4.
- Adapted from Benefits of Omega 3 – Written by Nicola Wilkinson FUTURELIFE Dietitian
- Kathleen Mahan, Sylvia Escott-Stump and Janice L. Raymond. Krause's Food and the Nutrition Care Process. St. Louis : Elsevier Saunders, 2012.(Accessed November 2018)
- Advances in Nutrition (2012).Omega-3 Fatty Acids EPA and DHA: Health Benefits Throughout Life. Available at: https://pdfs.semanticscholar.org/20ef/5b7cd6cfb4668cf066eeb8de5671a3a8747d.pdf(Accessed 29th January 2018)
- DSM (2016). Benefits of optimal omega-3 intake and status. Available at: http://www.dsm.com/content/dam/dsm/foodandbeverages/en_US/documents/hnh/benefits-of-optimal-omega-3-intake-and-status.pdf(Accessed November 2018)
- Healthline (2016). Diabetes and Blurry Vision: What You Need to Know. Available at: https://www.healthline.com/health/diabetes/blurry-vision#1 (Accessed 29th January 2018)
- Circulation (2017). Omega-3 Polyunsaturated Fatty Acid (Fish Oil) Supplementation and the Prevention of Clinical Cardiovascular Disease: A Science Advisory From the American Heart Association. Available at: http://circ.ahajournals.org/content/early/2017/03/13/CIR.0000000000000482(Accessed 29th January 2018)
- (2017) Diabetes and Inflammation. Available at: https://www.webmd.com/diabetes/type-2-diabetes-guide/inflammation-and-diabetes#1Text (Accessed 29th January 2018)
- National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases (NIDDK) (2017). Diabetes, Heart Disease, and Stroke. Available at: https://www.niddk.nih.gov/health-information/diabetes/overview/preventing-problems/heart-disease-stroke (Accessed 29th January 2018)
- Diabetesforecast (2010). Can Omega-3 Supplements Trigger Diabetes? Available at: http://www.diabetesforecast.org/2010/oct/can-omega-3-supplements-trigger-diabetes.html(Accessed 29th January 2018)
- Healthline (2017). How Much Omega-3 Should You Take Per Day? Available at: https://www.healthline.com/nutrition/how-much-omega-3 (Accessed 29th January 2018)
- Heart and Stroke Foundation of South Africa (2017). Healthy Eating. Available at: http://www.heartfoundation.co.za/healthy-eating/(Accessed 29th January 2018)
- South African Food based dietary Guidelines (2013). Available at: http://www.adsa.org.za/Portals/14/Documents/FoodBasedDietaryGuidelinesforSouthAfrica.pdf (Accessed 29th January 2018)