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10.02.2014


Fish oil increases insulin sensitivity only when combined with exercise

Some studies show that fish oil protects humans against type-2 diabetes [J Am Diet Assoc. 2010 Jul; 110(7): 1018-26.], others show that a diet that is rich in fish fatty acids actually raises the chance of diabetes developing [Diabetes Care. 2012 Apr; 35(4): 918-29.]. Epidemiologists at the University of Pittsburgh in the US have probably discovered the reason why different studies come to different conclusions. A diet that is rich in fish fatty acids only protects against diabetes if you also do large amounts of exercise.

Some studies show that fish oil protects humans against type-2 diabetes [J Am Diet Assoc. 2010 Jul; 110(7): 1018-26.], others show that a diet that is rich in fish fatty acids actually raises the chance of diabetes developing [Diabetes Care. 2012 Apr; 35(4): 918-29.]. Epidemiologists at the University of Pittsburgh in the US have probably discovered the reason why different studies come to different conclusions. A diet that is rich in fish fatty acids only protects against diabetes if you also do large amounts of exercise.
Some studies show that fish oil protects humans against type-2 diabetes [J Am Diet Assoc. 2010 Jul;110(7):1018-26.], others show that a diet that is rich in fish fatty acids actually raises the chance of diabetes developing [Diabetes Care. 2012 Apr;35(4):918-29.]. Epidemiologists at the University of Pittsburgh in the US have probably discovered the reason why different studies come to different conclusions. A diet that is rich in fish fatty acids only protects against diabetes if you also do large amounts of exercise.

Ten years ago, articles on the health benefits of fish oil appeared every week in the media. Now in 2014 the same fish oil is regarded with disdain. This is the result of a couple of large studies in which the health effects of fish fatty acids have been shown to be disappointing or downright negative. The same is also the case for epidemiological studies on the effects of fish fatty acids such as DHA and EPA structural formulas shown above] on the body's glucose-insulin management and the likelihood of developing type-2 diabetes.


Some studies show that fish oil protects humans against type-2 diabetes [J Am Diet Assoc. 2010 Jul; 110(7): 1018-26.], others show that a diet that is rich in fish fatty acids actually raises the chance of diabetes developing [Diabetes Care. 2012 Apr; 35(4): 918-29.]. Epidemiologists at the University of Pittsburgh in the US have probably discovered the reason why different studies come to different conclusions. A diet that is rich in fish fatty acids only protects against diabetes if you also do large amounts of exercise.


Nevertheless, there are animal studies and human lab studies that have shown that fish oil supplementation can improve the functioning of insulin in the body. The indications that fish oil enhances the effect of insulin are just as strong as the indications that physical exercise enhances the functioning of insulin.

The effects of exercise and fish-oil supplementation resemble each other, but work through different mechanisms. Exercise stimulates the muscle cells' glucose uptake because it activates the glucose transporter GLUT4; fish fatty acids oxidise in the body into substances that activate the PPAR proteins. PPAR is a molecular sensor that cells use to sense fat. Activating PPAR boosts cells' burning of fatty acids and their insulin sensitivity.

If your insulin system is working well your cholesterol levels will be ok, and you will be less likely to develop cardiovascular disease.

That's why the epidemiologists at the University of Pittsburgh examined 344 Americans aged between 30 and 54 to see whether there was a link between a high fish-oil intake and a lifestyle that included lots of exercise on the one hand, and insulin sensitivity and cardiovascular health on the other.

The researchers discovered that in half of the participants who got relatively large amounts of exercise [and burned more than 2093 kcal per week as a result of exercise] the cardiovascular health was better the more fish fatty acids they had in their blood. The same was the case for insulin sensitivity. Among the participants who exercised a lot, their insulin sensitivity was higher the more fish fatty acids they had in their body.


Some studies show that fish oil protects humans against type-2 diabetes [J Am Diet Assoc. 2010 Jul; 110(7): 1018-26.], others show that a diet that is rich in fish fatty acids actually raises the chance of diabetes developing [Diabetes Care. 2012 Apr; 35(4): 918-29.]. Epidemiologists at the University of Pittsburgh in the US have probably discovered the reason why different studies come to different conclusions. A diet that is rich in fish fatty acids only protects against diabetes if you also do large amounts of exercise.


The researchers suspect that fish oil not only makes cells more sensitive to insulin, but that it also reduces the secretion of insulin. It may be that the latter effect also weighs heavier in obese, non-active people than the previous, and that it therefore can cause a kind of pseudo-diabetes. But in people who are active, and who make their cells more sensitive to insulin through exercising more, a diet that is rich in fish oil has a positive effect.

Source:
J Nutr. 2013 Sep;143(9):1414-20.

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