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Diabetes mellitus is a metabolic disorder classified by abnormally high blood sugar resulting from low levels of the hormone insulin. Type 1 diabetes (for which there are genetic links) occurs when the body’s immune system destroys the insulin-producing cells (pancreatic beta cells), resulting in high blood sugar. In type 2 diabetes (typically lifestyle-related) insulin is produced, but the target cells do not recognise it and glucose is not able to move into the cell. This causes a need for abnormally high amounts of insulin; type 2 diabetes develops when the beta cells cannot meet this demand.

Continuous high levels of glucose can result in damage to blood vessels – the underlying cause of many of the health problems associated with diabetes. People with diabetes have two to four times the risk of developing heart disease or stroke than the general population. They are also highly susceptible to conditions such as nephropathy (damage to the kidneys) and peripheral neuropathy (diabetic nerve damage) [i]. Sufferers who have chronic diabetes are about 50% likely to experience some kind of nerve damage.

How fatty acids help
Individuals with diabetes are advised to maintain a healthy weight, exercise regularly and eat a healthy diet to control blood sugar levels. Insulin itself plays a vital role in fatty acid metabolism by switching on the genes for specific enzymes needed to convert short-chain fatty acids to long- chain fatty acids. Where insulin is absent or activity is impeded, the enzymes needed to create specific fatty acids cannot be produced, causing deficiencies. Indeed there is increasing evidence that supplementing with long-chain fatty acids has significant beneficial effects on diabetic neuropathy [ii] and serum lipids (cholesterol, triglycerides) [ii] as well as other diabetic complications such as nephropathy (damage to the kidneys) and macroangiopathy (fat and blood clots in the large blood vessels) [v, v, vi] . Omega product, with its optimum ratio of omega-3 & -6 fatty acids, is an ideal supplement for addressing the symptoms associated with diabetes.

[i] Toth C, Martinez J, Zochodne DW. (2007) RAGE, diabetes, and the nervous system. Curr Mol Med. 7:766-76.

[ii] Zhang M, Hagiwara S, Matsumoto M, Gu L, Tanimoto M, Nakamura S, Kaneko S, Gohda T, Qian J, Horikoshi S, Tomino Y. ( 2006) Effects of eicosapentaenoic acid on the early stage of type 2 diabetic nephropathy in KKA(y)/Ta mice: involvement of anti-inflammation and antioxidative stress. Metabolism. 55:1590-8.

[iii] Okuda Y, Mizutani M, Ogawa M, et al. (1996) Long-term effects of eicosapentaenoic acid on diabetic peripheral neuropathy and serum lipids in patients with type II diabetes mellitus. J Diabetes Complications 10:280–7.

[vi] Shimizu H, Ohtani K, Tanaka Y, Sato N, Mori M, Shimomura Y. (1995) Long-term effect of eicosapentaenoic acid ethyl (EPA-E) on albuminuria of non-insulin dependent diabetic patients. Diabetes Res Clin Pract. 28:35-40.

[v] Barre DE. (2007) The role of consumption of alpha-linolenic, eicosapentaenoic and docosahexaenoic acids in human metabolic syndrome and type 2 diabetes--a mini-review. J Oleo Sci. 56:319-25. Review.

[vi] Mita T, Watada H, Ogihara T, Nomiyama T, Ogawa O, Kinoshita J, Shimizu T, Hirose T, Tanaka Y, Kawamori R. (2007) Eicosapentaenoic acid reduces the progression of carotid intima-media thickness in patients with type 2 diabetes. Atherosclerosis. 191:162-7.

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