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Benefits of Fish Oil Highlighted in New Study

04/09/2015

Benefits of Fish Oil Highlighted in New StudyNew research suggests that the impact of dietary fats on our overall health is likely to be affected by the changes they cause in the stomach’s bacteria ecosystem.

The findings, which were obtained by studies in mice, show that diets rich in omega-3 fats, such as fish oil, affect the gut’s balance of bacteria differently to diets rich in lard.

Senior researcher Professor Fredrik Bäckhed, from the University of Gothenburg’s faculty of Health Sciences, also known as the Sahlgrenska Academy, led the team of European researchers who discovered that changes in gut microbiota are responsible for some of their health benefits.

“We wanted to determine whether gut microbes directly contribute to the metabolic differences associated with diets rich in healthy and unhealthy fats,” said first study author Robert Caesar from the University of Gothenburg. And, even though the study was done in mice, he said: “our goal is to identify interventions for optimising metabolic health in humans.”

Writing in the journal Cell Metabolism, Bäckhed’s team said they obtained their results by feeding either lard or fish oil to a group of mice for a period of 11 weeks. They then monitored the metabolic health of the study mice and found that dietary fat is a major community structure driver, which in turn affects the composition and diversity of gut microbiota.

“We were surprised that the lard and the fish oil diet, despite having the same energy content and the same amount of dietary fibre—which is the primary energy source for the gut bacteria—resulted in fundamentally different gut microbiota communities and that the microbiota per se had such large effects on health,” said Bäckhed.

Increased lard consumption promoted the growth of Bilophila, bacteria often linked to gut inflammation. In contrast, the fish oil diet increased the growth of Akkermansia muciniphila, bacteria known to reduce weight gain and improve glucose metabolism in mice.

The bottom line is that eating a diet rich in fish oils is, as the study suggests, going to help you lose weight, compared to a diet rich in lard.

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