In the last blog I delved into some associations between the biologic time clocks we call Telomeres, sugar control and obesity. The net summary of that blog is that the body has only so many responses to insults like high blood sugar and obesity, and those responses can wind up looking pretty much the same metabolically, even though a fat non-diabetic physically looks much different than a lean, poorly controlled diabetic. The end result is premature aging and shorter telomeres.
Perhaps the saddest end points of all are manifested in the huge proportion of obese children and adolescents. There is no way you can look at this and not see the role of sugar addiction, carb addiction and sedentary behavior. Scientists, particularly epidemiologists, will debate all of this ’til the cows come home, and all the while kids are getting fatter. And for the most part dumber too!
I will explain the tie in between those two things in a minute but let me get back to obesity, poor sugar control and its attendant problem, insulin resistance.
Simply put, insulin resistance happens when the body is making more insulin but the cells are not responding to the insulin signal. This is seen early in the development of Type 2 diabetes. Recall this used to be called “adult onset diabetes” but we had to change the name because now a ton of our kids have it as a result of toxic sugary foods we feed them.
Loads of calories, loads of refined carbs, loads of sugar, loads of insulin, scant nutrition!
The end result of this is 50% of our obese children are already insulin resistant before they hit their 18th birthday.
This has gotten so bad that some genius (and this time I really mean they are geniuses!) decided to do a study looking at 100 fat kids on fish oil and 100 fat kids on the drug metformin and see what happened to their insulin resistance. In case you don’t know about metformin, it’s been around since the 30’s but has just recently come into favor again in the past decade. Since it’s a drug, it does have side effects including low blood sugar and renal failure, especially when combined with radiologic dye. Fish oil has none of those side effects and attempts to pin excess bleeding, etc. on it having failed to produce any statistically significant results even when used around open heart surgery, brain injury and in conjunction with prescription blood thinners like clopidigrel. All the fish oil does is make them more effective!
Now you may have also noticed that our kids seem to be put on prescription drugs more and more — Ritalin, Prozac, statins, now anti-diabetic drugs to name a few. All of this is to modify their behavior, eating or otherwise. It’s a sad testimonial to two things: we do not control our children (as a matter of fact, there is an ever-growing contingent that thinks we shouldn’t “interfere with their experiences”) and we are fine with throwing drugs at them instead of dealing with the real issues that cause these behaviors.
OK, enough social ranting; now let’s look at the study results. As a matter of fact, I am simply going to quote them and then explain them.
“Concerning the IR profile at the end of intervention, ω-3 significantly decreased the concentrations of glucose and insulin while reducing HOMA-IR values; meanwhile, Met negligibly affected insulin levels. Regarding lipids, Met increased high density lipoprotein cholesterol (HDL-C) and decreased low density lipoprotein cholesterol (LDL-C), but triglycerides were not affected; in contrast, triglycerides were decreased significantly by ω-3. The effects on BMI were marginal under Met but were significant with ω-3.”
Ok, what does this mean? Well the “IR profile” is short for insulin resistance profile and this measured the kids’ insulin resistance. You see, this got better along with the actual glucose levels and insulin levels. Both metformin and fish oil had favorable effects on various lipid components and the fish oil also decreased the BMI (weight).
Metformin did not improve insulin levels but did improve blood sugar — HMMMM! This is a biggie because, although lower blood sugar is important, the end goal was to improve the insulin resistance. Metformin did not do that in this study. It also did not improve the kids’ weight, whereas fish oil did.
Ok, let’s look at doses. No attempt was made to define the Omega 6/3 ratios in these kids and they were given a low dose of fish oil (1.8 grams a day). The dose of metformin was in line with the age of this population.
I would have loved to see the results of this study if the Omega 6/3 ratios had been checked and corrected with the proper amounts of fish oil! I think they would have been even more impressive.
Let me tell you another thing. Metformin has become the darling of the anti-aging community because of a study on diabetics in the U.K. where it showed a 30% reduction of cancer in diabetics – not non-diabetics. As a result, there is a movement among anti-aging types to use it ‘prophylactically’ even though there is not a large body of data in normal non-diabetics.
Fish oil anyone? I would love to see the same study done head-to-head with Omega 3 and metformin, using appropriate levels of Omega 3 to restore a good ratio.
So what does this all mean to you personally? Well here’s the thing. We doctors love to give you drugs. We hate to give you supplements because supplements are “fringe pseudo-scientific quack medicine”- until Big Pharma releases them in prescription form (there are now three prescription Omega 3’s).
Your kids’ doctors are the same. “There is a drug for that, ya know!”
You might want to suggest a trial of fish oil for your kids and yourself. Of course I want you to work with your doctor and keep them informed because at least a few of them will do more research and become your ally.
Omega 3 increases also improve cancer rates, arrhythmia rates, heart disease, and believe it or not, things like anti-social and adversarial behavior!
Because they are supposed to be there in much higher amounts than we get in our diets. That is not therapy! That is returning to normal no matter what the doctors and drug companies try to tell you about prescriptions.
Normal is normal and until we return to normal we will simply be practicing insanity and propagating a string of dietary diseases and premature aging and loss of health.
There are several studies that suggest Omega 3’s improve (they do not lengthen but they preserve) telomere length. No one is concerned about telomere length in children with obesity and insulin resistance. Perhaps they should be!
TA-65, the only proven (in humans) telomerase activator, is generally not used in children to avoid any potential medical-legal issues. Same thing with the Telomere Edge Packs, which would otherwise be a great support agent.
But while we wait for our kids to get sicker, fatter and dumber (yes, the Omega 3 situation relates very well to childhood behavior and possibly to IQ!) we as adults can at least undo some of the damage of our diet and environment without drugs!
Disclosure: I make an ultra-clean, ultra-pure, top shelf fish oil that is the kind of thing that you want in your body.
I have for the past 10 years and I have taken what you might consider huge amounts for that time period and will continue to do so for the rest of my statistically longer life than my genetics would account for! Of course I also take TA-65 and have for 4 years now.
Reference article: Pediatr Diabetes. 2013 Feb 25. doi: 10.1111/pedi.12024. [Epub ahead of print]
Omega-3 polyunsaturated fatty acids reduce insulin resistance and triglycerides in obese children and adolescents.
Juárez-López C, Klünder-Klünder M, Madrigal-Azcárate A, Flores-Huerta S.