We have talked at length on this site about the role inflammation has in chronic diseases like diabetes and how avoiding potential complications of diabetes is part of our quest to take better care of ourselves. Diabetes control is, of course, a mainstay of how we can prevent or perhaps put off getting complications. There also seems to be a genetic factor in play here, because some individuals seem to be more resistant to complications than others. Whatever category you fall into, helping stave off complications is vital. We do this by keeping blood sugars in control, and also by trying to keep inflammation at bay in this very “inflammatory” environment we live in.

Our world has become more dangerous to our health because of the chemicals we have created to keep foods “fresh” and to enhance their colors to make them more appealing. There are also the pesticides and other noxious substances that we get exposed to almost daily, including second hand smoke. This is not meant to make you feel bad, but is an explanation of why inflammation plays such an important role in not just the health of those with diabetes, but in all people. Inflammation in our bodies comes about as a reaction to substances that the body finds foreign or perceives to be dangerous. It is a way of protection because the cells are basically saying to other cells, “ I need some help here to clear the area.” When you have a cut, it either heals nicely or becomes infected and damages surrounding tissue. This is a very simplistic explanation of how inflammation can damage cells.

The inflammatory response in patients with diabetes has been well documented as being a cause of some of the many complications associated with the disease. Diabetes makes you more prone to inflammation because high blood sugars create a situation that makes blood vessels and other internal organs more susceptible to an inflammatory response. You may have had the experience of having a cut that did not heal well if your blood sugars are running high. High blood sugars are food to bacteria and other toxins.

Sugar induces inflammation by a process called glycation. This process involves the chemical linking of a sugar molecule to a protein molecule, which leads to what is known as an advanced glycation endproducts or AGE’s. In essence, too much glucose causes our cellular machinery to produce too many oxidative byproducts, with not enough anti-oxidant potential to rid the body of them.

Several studies have shown that omega 3’s have a role in helping to protect cells from inflammation. However, the current diet in the U.S. does not generally provide us with adequate omega 3. This is due to many factors, such as too much fast food and not enough fresh fish consumption as well as the fact that our beef and chicken does not contain omega 3 in the quantities it used to due to current farming practices. This study is one of many on omega 3’s that has shown their anti-inflammatory potential and ability to help with not just diabetes, but arthritis and other diseases as well. Omega 3 comes in many forms, and I recommend you do some research of your own before choosing a supplement and consult your health care team for permission to take one. Here are some helpful tips:

  • Avoid fish oil in clear containers because they can get oxidized and turn rancid when exposed to light.
  • You can often store it in the fridge to maximize freshness (always check with the manufacturer, if possible).
  • Krill oil is a form of fish oil that is more bio-available and may be a better option.
  • Flaxseed oil is another good source of fish oil, and is best when purchased whole so you can grind it yourself right before consuming to maintain freshness.

Whatever source you choose, remember to do your research. There are many studies on the benefits of omega 3’s, the choice of just how you want to get more into your diet is entirely up to you.

Stay healthy!

For more in-depth study information, check out, "Dietary Antioxidant Interventions in Type 2 Diabetes Patients: a meta-analysis." This study involves type 2 patients, but the author believes this would apply to any patient with glucose impairment to some degree.

To learn more about omega 3, read our other article on the topic, "Omega 3…A Fat by Any Other Name."