Omega 3 and 6 supplements may protect obese people from type 2 diabetes: Fatty acids in salmon and nuts alter how ‘insulin’ genes are expressed, study finds

  • After just 12 weeks of taking supplements, obese rats’ glucose levels lower
  • Omega 3 and 6 influence the expression of genes linked to insulin production
  • Type 2 diabetes occurs when people do not make or use insulin properly
  • Consistently high blood-glucose levels damage people’s blood vessels
  • This can lead to complications like kidney disease, nerve damage and blindness 

Omega 3 and 6 supplements may protect obese people from type 2 diabetes, new research suggests.

After just 12 weeks of having such supplements added to their diets, obese rats have lower glucose levels and improved glucose control, a study found today.

Omega 3, which is in salmon, and omega 6, which is found in nuts, influence the expression of 135 genes that control the release of proteins that determine insulin production, the research adds.

Type 2 diabetes occurs when people’s bodies do not make or use insulin properly, leading to raised blood-sugar levels. It is associated with carrying too much weight. 

Consistently high blood-glucose levels damage blood vessels, which can lead to kidney disease, nerve damage and blindness.

Omega 3 and 6 supplements may protect obese people from type 2 diabetes (stock)


Vitamin D in childhood prevents type 1 diabetes, research suggested in December 2017.

The sunshine supplement lowers susceptible individuals’ risk by strengthening their immune system, a study found.

Lead author Dr Jill Norris, from the University of Colorado, said: ‘For several years there has been controversy among scientists about whether vitamin D lowers the risk of developing type 1 diabetes.’

Type 1 diabetes is an autoimmune condition that occurs when a person’s immune system attacks the cells that produce insulin.

The condition is increasing by three-to-five percent annually, particularly among children.

It is on the rise too quickly to be the fault of genetics, with experts therefore blaming everything from gluten, a growing obsession with cleanliness and obesity for the disorder’s surging numbers. 

The researchers analysed 8,676 children from the US and Europe with an elevated type 1 diabetes risk.

High-diabetes risk was determined by the presence of at least one type 1 diabetes antibody precursor on at least two visits.

The children were followed from infancy, with blood samples being collected every three to six months. 

How the research was carried out    

The researchers, from the University of Guelph, Ontario, analysed the muscles and DNA of rats who were fed different diets.

Obese rodents were given food supplemented with either omega 3 or 6 fatty acids.

These were compared against obese animals, and those of a healthy weight, who were fed a normal diet.  

The findings were published in the journal Physiological Genomics.

Omega 3 protects against sight loss   

This comes after research released last December suggested eating plenty of salmon, sardines and mackerel may protect against sight loss.

A chemical in oily fish boosts the survival of cells that are critical to vision, protecting against age-related sight decline, a study by Louisiana State University found.

Omega-3 oils ‘precondition’ cells in the eye to withstand ‘stress’, such as a loss of blood supply, according to researchers.

In laboratory tests, human eye cells exposed to constant light withstand damage if they are supplemented with such oils, the research adds. 

Although fish oil also contains omega-6 AA, which is inflammatory and could therefore cause damage, omega-3 DHA is thought to alter the former oil’s action.

In laboratory experiments the researchers exposed human retinal cells, as well as those of living rats, to constant light. Prior omega-3 DHA supplementation saved these cells from destruction. 

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