A team of Auckland scientists has done some really interesting work on fish oil in rats that may be very relevant to mums wanting to reduce diabetes risks for their babies.

Half of the rates were fed a high-fat diet to make them fat, and the other half were fed a standard diet, and then half from each group were also given fresh fish oil.

In the offspring of the high-fat group, the fish oil treatment improved the way insulin works. which lowers diabetes risk.

“This is exciting because it raises the question: if overweight women take fresh fish oil in pregnancy, will it lower the risk of their children later developing diabetes?” said Dr Ben Albert, who led the research with Professor Wayne Cutfield, both at the University of Auckland-based Liggins Institute.

At least 3 out of 10 pregnant women in New Zealand are overweight, so it really is a big problem. 1 out of 5 pregnant women already take fish oil.

BUT the scientists said they don’t actually recommend that women take fish oil in pregnancy just yet. Firstly, the research hasn’t been replicated in humans. More importantly though, most fish oil that you buy in stores is actually ‘off’ – it has been oxidised.

“The same benefit has not yet been shown in humans, and our earlier study shows New Zealanders cannot be sure that the fish oil they buy is fresh.”

Lots of other studies have shown that over 80% of fish oil on shelves is off. Fish oil is extremely unstable and easily breaks down after exposure to sunlight, heat and oxygen. Rancid fish oil is highly inflammatory.

A study done by the same team previously had found that when pregnant rats are fed very rancid fish oil, their newborn pups are far more likely to die – 8x the normal mortality rate.

Right now, the best thing to do is ensure you get your recommended intake of oily fish. Be careful of heavy metals of course, but there are still safe options. I like sardines!

Links: Fresh fish oil lowers diabetes risk in rat offspring

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