Study Shows Benefits of a High Omega-3 Diet in Older Adults

2008-08-13 08:48:00

    High Omega-3 Fat Intake Improves Insulin Sensitivity and Reduces

Inflammatory Markers, But Does Not Alter Endocrine Responsiveness



    PHOENIX, Aug. 13 /EMWNews/ -- A study conducted by

Phoenix-based Kronos Longevity Research Institute (KLRI) found that a diet

high in omega-3 fat improves insulin sensitivity and reduces inflammatory

markers, but does not alter endocrine responsiveness. This study was

recently published in Hormones and Metabolic Research.



    "As we age, hormone secretion and cell responsiveness decrease,

possibly due to loss of cell membrane fluidity or alteration of the

membrane," said Dr. S. Mitchell Harman, MD, PhD, Director and President of

Kronos Longevity Research Institute. "Animal studies have shown that

omega-3 fatty acids may help hormone signals get into cells whose cell

membrane has been stiffened by age."



    Omega-3 fatty acids are polyunsaturated fatty acids found in certain

natural foods, such as fish, especially salmon and tuna. They are known to

help protect against heart disease. KLRI examined the effects of a diet

high in omega-3 fatty acids on the loss of normal hormone balance that

occurs during normal aging. KLRI recruited men and women over the age of 60

to investigate whether a high omega-3 fatty acid diet would improve their

endocrine function.



    "It is possible to achieve significant changes in the fat molecules in

cell membranes after relatively short periods of changes in one's diet,"

said Panayiotis D. Tsitouras, MD, Clinical Director at KLRI. "We wanted to

see if we could improve mental function, hormone levels at rest and/or

under stress, and immune function, toward a pattern more like that of

younger individuals."



    In this study, all participants were given a conventional Western diet

with defined fat and daily intake of olive/corn oil mix for six weeks. For

the next eight weeks, participants were placed on a high omega-3 content

fish diet with additional supplementation of fish oil, high in omega-3

polyunsaturated fat. This study had administered the highest known level of

omega-3 than previous studies.



    During the last week, membrane fatty acids were measured on each diet.

Insulin sensitivity was also assessed. The results showed that in a diet

with a high intake of omega-3, triglycerides were reduced in women and free

fatty acids were reduced in men. Serum C-reactive protein was also reduced

with a high omega-3 diet. No changes were found in metabolic parameters or

hormone responses.



    "We concluded that a diet high in omega-3 increases insulin sensitivity

and reduces inflammatory markers," said Harman. "However, it did not alter

endocrine responsiveness after eight weeks."



    These findings are consistent with other studies that have found that

diets high in omega-3 and/or omega-3 supplements have anti-inflammatory

benefits. Omega-3 fats are abundant in Japanese and Mediterranean diets,

and are believed to contribute to low heart disease rates in those regions.



    "Clearly, a diet rich in omega-3 fats is beneficial to one's heart

health," said Tsitouras. "This study along with similar studies in the

future will shed new light and pave the way for preventative measures for

heart disease."



    About Kronos Longevity Research Institute



    Kronos Longevity Research Institute (KLRI) is a not-for-profit,

501(c)(3) organization that conducts state-of-the-art clinical

translational research on the prevention of age-related diseases and the

extension of healthier human life. KLRI tests new strategies to detect and

prevent chronic diseases associated with aging and investigates the effects

of innovative interventions to slow the aging process and improve health

outcomes for older persons. In addition, KLRI helps the medical and lay

communities understand important aging issues. KLRI research findings

support a healthier quality of life and a robust lifestyle in our senior

years. For more information, visit http://www.kronosinstitute.org.





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