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Omega-3 rich diet protects against type 2 diabetes

New research demonstrates that a low calorie diet with omega-3 supplements lowers the risk of type 2 diabetes.

Researchers from the NIHR Southampton Biomedical Research Centre and Jagiellonian University in Poland have found that obese people could lower their risk of developing type 2 diabetes by following a low calorie diet and taking omega-3 capsules.

A serious problem

Diabetes affects an estimated 3.9 million people in the UK, of which 90% have type 2 diabetes, and this figure is rising.

Type 2 diabetes is a condition in which the body is no longer able to control the amount of sugar in the blood, most usually developing over several years. If left untreated, it can lead to sight loss, kidney failure and foot ulcers, as well as increasing the risk of heart disease and stroke.

Obesity greatly increases the risk of type 2 diabetes, and even those who are obese but do not have diabetes can have early warning signs, such as insulin resistance or low insulin sensitivity. If these people lose weight and eat a healthy diet, they can lower their risk of developing the disease.

Omega-3 can help

This study, published in BBA Clinical and conducted at Jagiellonian University in Krakow, investigated whether a low calorie diet rich in omega-3 fatty acids, naturally found in oily fish and some seeds, can protect against diabetes to an even greater extent.

Participants were randomly assigned to two groups for three months - the first group ate a low calorie diet only, while the second group followed the same diet but also took a daily dose of omega-3 supplements. The researchers measured their Body Mass Index (BMI), hip and waist circumference, blood pressure and fat tissue at the start and end of the study.

Amongst those taking omega-3 supplements they found a 20% reduction in insulin resistance not seen in those eating the low calorie diet only, indicating an improved ability to metabolise sugar with the supplements.

These findings suggest that omega-3 supplements could further reduce risk of type 2 diabetes for those tackling excess weight through a low calorie diets.

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