Diabetes has all sorts of short-term and long-term complications to be concerned about. In the short term diabetics have to manage their diet to prevent fluctuating blood sugar levels. If these blood sugar levels remain too high for too long, bigger complications arise.
Having high blood sugar readings for a prolonged period puts stress on your blood vessels. The sugar travels through your veins like pebbles through a hose – if there are too many pebbles the hose-lining starts to deteriorate. Imagine this is happening in your eyes.
Losing eyesight is one of the long-term problems diabetics face, but there are so many more. Neuropathy creeps up slowly, hurts, then might just “go away”. The feeling is gone, because all feeling is gone. Typically the nerves in hands and feet are affected: sometimes the nerves are damaged to the point of not being able to feel anything.
Diabetic neuropathy is the leading cause of foot ulcers and non trauma-related amputation. When you can’t feel your foot, you don’t know if you’ve lost a toenail. Or worse.
A friend’s father, a longtime diabetic, broke a few toes while shovelling snow years ago. Nobody realized his foot was broken for a week. He couldn’t feel a thing. That’s what makes diabetic neuropathy so scary. Neuropathy is also very common, and treating it is expensive and agonizing.
Damaged Nerves and Diminished Senses
A new study posted in the Journal of Neurophysiology found that the fatty omega-3 acids found in fish oil may restore the damaged nerves associated with diabetic neuropathy. Tested on mice, the treatment was seen to have positive effects.
Researchers noted the paws of the untreated diabetic mice had diminished sense of touch that corresponded to fewer nerves in the paw’s skin and slower transmission of signals along the nerves. The eyes of the untreated diabetic mice also had fewer nerves.
Fatty Fish Oil
The fish oil treatment and resolvin (a compound made from fatty omega-3s) did not lower the blood sugar levels of the diabetic mice. The test shows that they did, however, improve the health of the nerves in the diabetic mice, in terms of density and sensory signal transmission. The resolvin also stimulated nerve cells to grow, which is a hopeful sign.
I can’t imagine losing the sensation in my hands or feet. But I have diabetes, so I often to imagine it. I know if I don’t take care of myself now – controlling my blood sugar levels, maintaining a healthy lifestyle, managing my weight, stress, and health – someone else will be later.
Fishing For Good News
The idea of using fish oil for diabetic neuropathy is still in its infancy stage. Yes it has been tested on mice, but further and deeper study is required before anyone starts recommending this treatment. Right now the best treatment is prevention.
The best possible discovery for diabetics would be a cure. I don’t see that coming from fish oil, but diminishing the problems associated with diabetes is a good start.
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