Omega-3 fats reduce chronic inflammation and insulin resistance. Now we know why.
Tomorrow the journal Cell will publish a report telling how researchers at the University of California, San Diego identified the molecular mechanism that omega-3 uses. The full-text of the article by Jerrold Olefsky, M.D., and his associates is online.
They found a key receptor on macrophages, which are specialized white blood cells that engulf and digest cellular debris and pathogens. Omega-3 fats activate this macrophage receptor with broad anti-inflammatory effects and improved insulin sensitivity.
When we have insulin resistance, insulin doesn’t regulate our blood glucose levels as well, and it often leads to type 2 diabetes. “Chronic, low grade tissue inflammation is an important cause of obesity-related insulin resistance,” the study states. As I have reported here previously, Dr. Olefsky has been working to see how we can “block or disarm this macrophage inflammatory pathway in humans,” preventing insulin resistance and type 2 diabetes.
Dr. Olefsky’s group used cell cultures and mice. They didn’t use people. But by using mice they were able to “knock out” or turn off specific genes. “Mice are currently the most closely related laboratory animal species to humans for which the knockout technique can easily be applied.” Doing this to humans would not be practical, and if it were, it wouldn’t be ethical.
I applaud this research. But not Dr. Olefsky’s proposed solution.
“These results,” the study says, “strongly argue that anti-inflammatory effects can ameliorate insulin resistance in obesity.” But then the study’s authors go on to say that this knowledge “may prove useful in the future development of new therapeutic approaches for the treatment of insulin resistant diseases.”
As I wrote in review of Dr. Olefsky’s earlier research, “He’s thinking drugs to reverse a sad situation.” He still is, but we can think diet now.
We can simply increase the level of omega-3 fats in the tissues of our bodies. Cold-water fish like salmon and sardines are the most effective. Fish or krill oil works too. But, as I have written here, we need to cut back on omega-6 fats first.
HealthCentral published an earlier version of this article.