Ask the Diabetes Educator Archive

Q:
Can you provide me with information on the use of flaxseed and how it may help Type II diabetes.

A:
The key issue to address here is the intake of essential fatty acids, particularly the Omega-3 fatty acids which are obtained from cold water, ocean fish like salmon, tuna and swordfish. When EFA's are not supplied, the cells use saturated fats or processed transfatty acids (as is found in most margarines), which causes insulin resistance. Those fats produce inflexible
and inefficient cell membranes that do not allow the proper utilization of insulin.

Flaxseed oil, another source of EFA's, is often not the best choice for those with diabetes. This oil requires a conversion in the body before it can actually be used; that conversion factor, a desaturate, is often impaired.

How much is appropriate? 2-3 grams/day of fish oil is a base; doses can go as high as 10 grams, depending on other clinical conditions. Eating the 'right fish' is a good thing!

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