Although type 1 diabetes often develops in childhood, that is not always the case. In some instances, the disease may not fully develop until adulthood. The body may produce autoantibodies, known as GAD65 antibodies, long before type 1 diabetes symptoms appear. Detecting these autoantibodies can allow individuals to keep a closer eye on their health and be proactive when it comes to diabetes risk.
A recent study found that omega-3 fatty acids may reduce type 1 diabetes risk or delay the disease’s onset. Fatty fish such as salmon, mackerel, and herring are all a good source of omega-3. When researchers compared omega-3 levels in individuals both with and without GAD65 antibodies, they found that “participants with GAD65 antibodies and a low intake of fish in their diet were 2.52 times as likely to have diabetes as those without GAD65 antibodies and a high intake of fish.”
When looking only at participants with GAD65 antibodies – a telltale sign of diabetes risk, those who ate less fish were more than four times as likely to have diabetes than those with a high fish intake and therefore higher levels of omega-3 fatty acids. The study included 11,247 individuals who developed diabetes in adulthood, and 14,288 adults without diabetes, all located in Europe.
One thing that is unclear, however, is precisely why fish consumption exerts this protective effect. Researchers continue to study the impact of omega-3 fatty acids on immune system function and potential type 1 diabetes triggers. Current guidelines from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) recommend at least 8 ounces of fish per week for adults and less for children. These amounts may be different for individuals with GAD65 antibodies depending on their healthcare provider’s recommendations and future studies related to diabetes and omega-3 levels.
The Diabetes Research Connection (DRC) is excited to see what future research uncovers in terms of the impact of fish consumption on potentially preventing or delaying the onset of type 1 diabetes. Though not involved in this study, the DRC supports novel, peer-reviewed studies conducted by early-career scientists by providing essential funding. Learn about current projects and how to support these efforts by visiting https://diabetesresearchconnection.org.
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