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Omega-3 Fats May Reduce Risk of Gastrointestinal Diseases

New research from the International Society for the Study of Fatty Acids and Lipids (ISSFAL), (Washington D.C.) shows that dietary fats impact gut bacteria and that omega-3s EPA and DHA, found in seafood and marine oils, may reduce inflammation and increase beneficial microorganisms to protect against gastrointestinal (GI) diseases.

The research also indicated that dietary choices and certain microorganisms in the GI tract can contribute to the prevention or development of inflammatory bowel disease, colitis (inflammation of the colon) and Crohn’s disease, reported ISSFAL.

Deanna Gibson, PhD, assistant professor at the University of British Columbia, Canada, and colleagues examined the effects of omega-3 and omega-6 polyunsaturated fatty acids (PUFA) in mice infected with GI bacteria that causes colitis. Those fed omega-6 PUFA (corn oil) diets had higher intestinal damage, immune cell damage and production of harmful bacteria. In contrast, diets high in EPA and DHA increased anti-inflammatory microbes, which reduced immune cell damage and inflammation as well as protected against the damage of colitis. However, the mice taking these omega-3 fats suffered sepsis because their immune responses needed to survive infection were impaired. “While too much inflammation isn’t good in the context of autoimmune disease, we also need inflammation to survive against infections,” said Gibson.

Jing X. Kang, MD, PhD, professor at Harvard Medical School and Massachusetts General Hospital, reported a mouse study showing a lower ratio of omega-6 to omega-3 PUFAs alters gut microbiota and reduces the production of harmful bacteria while increasing colonies of beneficial bacteria. These changes led to less inflammation.

For more information, visit www.issfal.org.

 

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