By TAP Integrative

Type 2 diabetes incidence is increasing at a growing rate throughout the world. The metabolic disorder is marked by hyperglycemia, insulin resistance, and beta cell dysfunction. Lifestyle and dietary factors play a role in both the development and management of type 2 diabetes. A healthy diet and adequate exercise are integral to management of the disease.

Research has also been conducted to determine whether specific foods or nutrients may mitigate the disease. Some studies found that fish consumption—and particularly consumption of the omega 3 fatty acids in fish—reduced incidence of type 2 diabetes. But other studies have called those results into question.

In a quest to draw definitive conclusions about the role of omega-3 fatty acids in type 2 diabetes and management, researchers at China’s Huazhong University of Science & Technology recently conducted a systematic examination of the randomized clinical trials on the topic. To do this, they searched Medline, PubMed, Cochrane Library, Embase, the National Research Register, and Sigle. They found 20 randomized clinical trials that matched their criteria.

In analyzing these 20 trials, the researchers found that patients who supplemented with omega-3s saw significant reductions in triglyceride levels. On the other hand, the studies revealed no noticeable changes in total cholesterol, HbA1c, fasting plasma glucose, postprandial plasma glucose, body mass index (BMI), or body weight.

The analysis did reveal, however, that the ratio of 2 types of omega 3s—eicosapentaenoic acid and docosahexaenoic acid—had an effect. A high EPA-to-DHA ratio was associated with a decreases in plasma insulin, HbAc1, total cholesterol, triglycerides, and BMI measures. While only the decreased level of triglycerides reached statistical significance, the trend of decreased insulin is promising and is backed up by animal studies.

The main takeaways from the study are that early intervention with omega 3 fatty acids, as well as achieving the proper balance of EPA and DHA, may help control triglycerides and insulin. Both of these are important in preventing and managing type 2 diabetes.

Chen C, Yu X, Shao S. Effects of omega-3 fatty acid supplementation on glucose control and lipid levels in type 2 diabetes: a meta-analysis. PLoS ONE. 2015;10(10): e0139565.

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*These statements have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. This product is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any disease.