Can Omega 3 help with IBD?

 

A while ago I shared all about my new diet and supplement regime and one of the things I mentioned was I taking a new form of fish oil. I’ve already talked about different nutritional deficiencies before, but today I thought I’d focus a blog post around Omega 3 and Inflammatory Bowel Disease in particular and see how it might be beneficial.

The Possible Benefits of Omega 3

Many of us are lacking in Omega 3 fatty acids (in fact, a study found almost all women were deficient in it!). We find them in things such as fish (although wild sources have much better levels of it), nuts and seeds. If omega 3 is low, it can cause symptoms such as dry, flaky skin, poor sleeping patterns, concentration problems and aching joints.

Whilst we might not link these types of symptoms to our gut, these essential fatty acids are also vital to our guts too.

Omega 3 and our Gut Microbiome

Almost everything is linked to our gut microbiome and this is something I’m particularly interested in since my own gut bacteria results were so awful.  So I wasn’t too surprised to discover that omega 3 could be linked to our gut microbiome too.

Although the relationship is complex, it’s thought that Omega 3 can have a real impact on our intestines.

It is thought to act as a kind of prebiotic; in that consuming lots of omega 3 has shown positive changes in our gut bacteria.

Put simply, an increased microbiome diversity was noted in those supplementing Omega 3 (source)  It also showed that supplementing omega 3 alongside your probiotic was even more effective. On a personal note, I am about to start a course of Symprove alongside Omega 3!

Omega 3 and Inflammatory Bowel Disease

As I’ve mentioned, omega 3 might be of interest to anyone with gut issues but I thought I’d look into the links to Inflammatory Bowel Disease. A few years ago, at a Crohn’s Colitis UK event; I attended a really helpful nutrition talk with a doctor, who explained that they had found lower inflammation levels in the cells of those who supplemented Omega 3.

So it’s certainly known for its potential anti-inflammatory effect but is there any specific information for those of us with IBD?

Well, this study is particularly interesting. Firstly, it notes that many IBD patients struggle with low omega 3 levels and that the mucosa in the gut is responsive to omega 3; potentially offering an anti-inflammatory effect.

When looking into current research, it notes that one study has suggested omega 3 could offer a protective effect against getting Ulcerative Colitis whilst it has also shown to lower the risk of colorectal cancer.

However, whilst it does seem to be that higher inflammation is linked to lower levels of omega 3 in those of us with IBD, other studies weren’t able to find concrete evidence of it’s benefits. Therefore, like most of the things I blog about-it’s all about what works for you and not about finding a cure or a medication-free solution.

 

What should I do if I suspect I’m low in Omega 3?

gluten and dairy free fish pie, gluten free fish pie.

 

Tuck into plenty of fish-such as my salmon-rich gluten and dairy free fish pie.

Omega 3 deficiency isn’t widely tested for-although there are a few private companies I’ve seen offer this, I can’t recommend one as I haven’t tried it myself. But, regardless, my top tips would be…

  • Tuck into wild oily fish such as salmon or tuna steak. Wild fish is more expensive but it’s thought to contain higher levels of omega 3 and vitamin D. I usually buy Keta fillets from Sainsbury’s but Leap Salmon is also wild and available from Ocado. Aim for two portions a week.

 

  •  (I learnt a lot from it!)Flaxseeds and chia seeds are great ground into smoothies as a vegan alternative.

 

  • You might want to try a supplement if you can’t stomach fish on the regular. I am currently taking Bare Biology Fish Oil  (not gifted or an ad!) on the recommendation of my nutritionist. It is very expensive but it is thought to be one of the purest kinds
  • . Supplements vary really widely so it’s important to look for the amount of EPA and DHA in it (cheaper versions have very little of it but the Bare Biology one has thousands) that’s super important for inflammation. This is a really useful guide to picking an Omega 3 supplement.; I actually learnt a lot reading it!

I hope you found this blog post useful. Here are some more supplement guides you might find useful:

Magnesium and Your Digestion

Vitamin D and Your Gut

2 Comments

  1. October 26, 2018 / 6:00 am

    I absolutely love eating salmon whenever it is in season. I take omega 3 supplements when I don’t have access to fish. Thanks for the nice article.

  2. November 4, 2018 / 10:33 am

    Wow this is so interesting. I do eat oily fish, but no where near often enough. I always take Vitamin D but I hadn’t realised this was great for the gut. I have always struggled with this, so I will definitely be giving it a go. Thanks 🙂

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