Fish oil is a dietary supplement derived from the fatty tissues of oily fish, it is manufactured and sold in tablet, liquid, and capsule. It is a great way to supplement your diet with omega-3 fatty acids, this has been shown to help in treating weight loss, ADHD, cardiovascular disease, Alzheimer’s and many more. Too much of everything is bad, and fish oil may trigger the development of a dangerous fatty liver disease.

A new study at the University of Granada, Spain, published in the Journal of Nutritional Biochemistry, concluded that consuming fish oil or sunflower for a long time can lead to NASH or steatohepatitis. This condition is a more serious form of the non-alcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD), and it has been reported to affect about 80 to 100 million worldwide.

NASH is characterized by liver scarring and liver damage, and it bears a striking resemblance to liver damage caused by alcohol abuse. NASH is more common in older adults, it is estimated to affect about 20% of adults in the USA.

Effects of oil consumption later in life

A new study conducted to understand the effects of oil consumption later in life by José Luis Quiles, professor of physiology at the University of Granada, the study examined the effect of some dietary oils; virgin olive oil, fish oil and sunflower oil on rat livers.

The study looked at oxidative stress, length of telomeres, liver scarring and the effects of gene expression, which are informative in predicting the ability of a body to regenerate cells in the rats liver.

Telomeres are strand located at the base of each DNA, it acts as a protection for the chromosomes within the cells. A reduction in telomeres has been associated with aging. Nevertheless, the longer your telomere, the higher the risk of cancer. Oxidative stress simply refers to the body’s inability to balance free radicals that damage cells.

The experiment furthermore looked at how livers aged over time. Naturally, livers accumulate fats as we age, but Quiles noted that irrespective of fat accumulation, some livers age healthier than others which predispose it more or less to certain diseases.

The food we eat impacts how well our livers age (Case Study: Fish oil)

For example, over an entire life cycle, the accumulation of sunflower consumed can trigger scarring of the liver or fibrosis. When people live with liver fibrosis, their liver can’t function optimally and cirrhosis sets in. cirrhosis is a chronic disease of the liver that may lead to liver failure. Sunflower was also identified as the chief culprit responsible for changes in the rat’s gene expression and increased level of liver oxidation.

Rats sample that consumed fish oil also exhibited a decrease in the electron transport chain activity in cells mitochondria as well as an age-related oxidation. The mitochondria are the powerhouses of the cell, a reduction in the electron transport chain activity leads to an impairment in cell function.

Furthermore, fish oil was also shown to significantly increase telomere length in the liver, which could become a cause for concern if it grows too long. Worthy of note is olive oil which shows the least damage to the liver. If you are a fan of a Mediterranean diet, well that’s good news!


Get omega-3s directly from the source

Often times, nutritionist and doctors will advise you to get nutrient directly from whole food from which it is derived. Instead of turning your attention to fish oil supplements for omega-3s, try eating about three to four servings of salmon or any fatty fish in a week.

In addition, incorporating flaxseed oil can help increase the level of omega-3s in your diet, so try adding into your smoothies or salad.

In order to avoid the adverse effects of fish oil supplements, the following foods are omega-3 rich:

    • Spinach
    • Alaskan wild-caught salmon
    • Anchovies
    • Fontina cheeese
    • Flaxseed oil
    • Firm tofu
    • Eggs
    • Navy beans
    • Atlantic mackerel
    • Chia seeds
  • Grass-fed beef

If we are in anyway alike, from the aforementioned information, you are probably looking at tossing out your fish oil supplements. The good news is the fact that, there are numerous ways in which you can get as much, if not more, benefits from whole foods.
What do you think of these new findings? Let us know in the comments below!

– Oluwatosin Jegede

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