Fish Oil and Diabetes: Can Omega-3 Lower Blood Sugar?

Written by Cassi O'Brien
Reviewed by Kimberly Langdon
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The link between high blood sugar levels and diabetes is well known. Sustained high blood sugar can lead to diabetes, or worsen pre-existing cases. Keeping blood sugar levels in check is therefore important. There is compelling evidence that Omega-3 fatty acids can help lower blood sugar levels naturally. We’ll go through the evidence in this blog post.

Why is it necessary to have normal blood sugar levels?

Blood sugar levels measure how much glucose is in the bloodstream. Acids and enzymes in the gut break down food into carbohydrates, proteins, and fats. Carbohydrates turn into glucose (a.k.a. sugar) and are sent from the gut into the bloodstream.

Insulin takes glucose out of the bloodstream, then moves it into cells. The cells then either use the glucose or store them for future use.

Glucose is the body’s main energy source. Therefore, it is important to have a decent amount. But when there is too much glucose present, it can become dangerous.

How to know when blood sugar levels are high?

Here’s a quick guide to knowing when blood sugar levels are considered high:

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*During the period between meals, known as the fasting period, high blood sugar levels are considered any amount greater than 100 mg/dL.

*For the two hours after a meal, blood sugar levels will be elevated but are still not considered high unless they are greater than 120 mg/dL.

Once the levels go over these values, the body goes into a state known as hyperglycemia.

The occasional case of hyperglycemia is not harmful and is nothing to worry about. But sustained or frequent hyperglycemia is a cause for alarm. It can result in damage to multiple parts of the body. Examples would be the vascular system, the brain, the kidneys, the eyes, and the nervous system.

Unfortunately, these kinds of health issues can start at an early age, so it’s important to pay close attention. Learning how to control blood sugar early can help prevent damage to overall health.

What causes high blood sugar levels? And how does Omega-3 help?

High blood sugar levels can be caused by a few factors. In this section, we’ll go through the main factors that contribute to raised blood glucose levels, and the role that Omega-3 plays in keeping the levels down.

Factor #1: Unhealthy diet rich in sugar and carbs!

The main factor is a diet that contains a large amount of sugar and carbohydrates. This can cause insulin sensitivity issues, and if left unmanaged, insulin resistance. Eventually, it may even lead to diabetes! Maintaining a healthy diet is a key part of preventing multiple health issues. The good news is that Omega-3 fatty acids may be highly effective in naturally lowering blood sugar.

A study was done on young adults between the ages of 22 and 26, who all maintained a healthy lifestyle. They were given DHA and EPA omega-3 fatty acids extracted from Herring Roe. The study’s findings suggest that taking an omega-3 supplement at a relatively young age may help control blood sugar levels. It may also prevent blood sugar-related issues in the future.

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Additionally, Omega-3 fish oil can help keep blood sugar levels from making a negative impact when we eat an unhealthy meal.

A study in 2014 showed that omega-3 fatty acids may help regulate how the body uses glucose. It may decrease the risk of obesity by preventing cells from absorbing too much glucose.

Moreover, omega-3 may also prevent damage to the body by counteracting inflammation that can be caused by high blood sugar levels.

Related article: How To Stop Sugar Cravings For Good!

Factor #2: Genetics

Another factor that can contribute to high blood sugar levels is genetics. An example of a genetic condition that can lead to hyperglycemia is Congenital Hyperinsulinism.

In 2014, a study examined the effect omega-3 could have on children with this condition. It showed a significant decrease in the risk of becoming hyperglycemic in the children that were given omega-3. This demonstrated the effectiveness that omega-3 fatty acids have at controlling blood sugar levels.

Factor #3: Injuries can cause blood sugar issues too

While diet and genetics are the most common factors of blood sugar issues, injuries can also be a cause. Those who had suffered a traumatic brain injury can be at risk for both hyperglycemia and hypoglycemia. The latter is the state the body enters when there isn’t enough glucose in the bloodstream.

An injury to certain parts of the brain can lead to cell death. This disrupts the processes that control blood sugar regulation. Omega-3 fatty acids are important to brain health and the healing process after a brain injury.

In a 2013 study, the effect of an omega-3 + vitamin D deficiency, in those recovering from a traumatic brain injury was examined. The results indicated that a lack of omega-3 in a diet could slow down the healing process. It can also lead to a higher risk of impaired blood sugar regulation.

Considering these findings, taking omega-3 supplements after these types of injuries can help regulate blood sugar levels. It may also lead to quicker healing that will further improve glucose regulation.

Should you take fish oil to lower blood sugar levels?

When it comes to regulating blood sugar levels, omega-3 fish oil can be a godsend. It has shown remarkable abilities at lowering blood sugar levels naturally, regardless of what the cause of impaired blood sugar regulation is.

That being said, for people with type 2 diabetes, there is, unfortunately, no evidence to support that taking fish oil can help with blood glucose control. It may, however, help improve the blood lipids profile for diabetics, which essentially lowers the risk of heart disease. But that’s not all! There are at least 24 science-backed health benefits of taking omega-3!

Omega-3 fish oil is a safe and effective health aid that definitely should not be overlooked. Anyone battling issues with blood sugar regulation, or is seeking to prevent these issues in the future, may benefit from supplementation.