Fish Oil and Diabetes
I am a naturopathic physician with nearly 20 years of experience developing breakthrough nutritional products.I also have extensive television and radio experience and have lectured widely to health professionals, the military and the public on all aspects of natural health.
Dr Myers, an expert who holds a doctorate in naturopathic medicine
Stephen Fry in my surgery during the making of the BBC TV program
Me with Lord Bragg, accepting my "Champion of the Year" award
After graduating, I was recognised as being the 'best young neurosurgeon in Britain'
According to statistics published in 2004, there were 1.8 million people living in the UK that had been diagnosed with diabetes. Needless to say, that number has grown since then with some estimates of at least two millions UK patients today. Diabetes is becoming a world wide epidemic and while it can be a manageable disease, the lack of information about the condition is causing this to be a frustrating time for new patients. The good news is that there are new treatments coming out each day to help manage diabetes, as well as new studies that are revealing the relevance of natural supplements like fish oil to blood sugar management.
What is Diabetes?
The condition of diabetes occurs when the body is unable to process the amount of sugar in the body through normal means. Normally, people will take in sugar by way of white breads and other starchy foods and then the liver will metabolise these foods into energy for the body in the form of glucose.
There are two types of diabetes that can help to further explain what happens to various patients with diabetes:
Type One Diabetes – This is a condition in which the body is unable to produce insulin on its own. In Type One, patients are usually diagnosed at a young age and almost always before they are 40 years of age. Interestingly enough this type of diabetes is not very common, affecting up to 15% of the total population.
Type Two Diabetes – This type of diabetes is quickly increasing in numbers across the globe. However, this type of diabetes doesn’t normally get diagnosed until the patient is over 40. In today’s times of processed foods and less exercise, a rise in obesity among all ages has sparked a trend of more cases of Type Two Diabetes. In this condition, the body can make some insulin, but not enough to process the sugar that is coming into the body.
How is Diabetes Diagnosed?
In most cases, diabetes is diagnosed often by accident. A blood sugar test reading will come back as being too high, causing the doctor to do another test to be certain of the results. At this point, the patient will be given various treatment options to consider.
In others, there are obvious symptoms of diabetes that are seen:
Unexplained weight loss
Slow wound healing
These symptoms can develop over months in those with Type One Diabetes, but those with Type Two Diabetes don’t tend to have obvious symptoms.
How is Diabetes Treated?
With the two types of diabetes, there are also different treatment options for each type.
For Type One, patients will need to inject themselves with insulin several times a day and regulate their blood sugars as much as they can with diet and exercise choices. The blood sugar levels need to be kept as consistent as possible in order to preserve the health of the rest of the body.
For Type Two, patients will have more choices. There are now prescription medications that can help with blood sugar maintenance and are taken orally. For others, changes in eating habits and exercise habits can manage the condition completely, while others need to take insulin and glucose tablets in order to maintain a balance. Some people find that losing weight can also help them to manage their blood sugars more easily.
In the end, diabetes is not a curable disease, but rather something that can be managed.
What Can Fish Oil Do for Diabetes?
According to a 2002 study done by Pennington Biomedical Research Institute, supplementing with fish oil helped nine of ten patients with Type Two Diabetes control their blood sugars. In a statistical analysis of the Eskimo population in Alaska, these people had higher risks of diabetes and heart disease, but because of high levels of whale blubber in their diets, these illnesses were not prevalent.
The idea is that fish oil seems to aid in the processing of sugar in the body as it is consumed. While this does not mean that the user can eat all the sugar they want, nor can they necessarily eliminate an insulin regimen, these findings do suggest that a diabetic’s life might be a lot easier if they were to add fish oil to their medical plan.
Ideas for Adding Essential Fatty Acids to Your Diet
In addition to adding fish oil capsules to the diet, adding oily fishes like mackerel and salmon seems to be the easiest way to regular your essential fatty acid levels. Though the connection between plant sources of essential fatty acids is unclear with diabetes, nuts and seeds and flaxseed oils are also good sources of these essential fatty acids.
Adding fish oil capsules or food sources to the diet seems to be a wise decision for those that have troubles managing their blood sugar levels due to diabetes. As with any medication change, be sure to speak to your general practitioner before taking any fish oil supplements.
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