Writing in Nutrients journal, the Swedish-based team go on to outline the regimen as potentially having benefits for conditions of inflammatory origin, such as hypertriglyceridemia and diabetes as well as improving gut-brain-axis communication.
“The positive impact of omega-3 fatty acids and probiotics (individually and combined) extend beyond gastrointestinal health to include positive effects on the gut-brain axis and neurological functioning,” says the team, co-led by Dr Ashley Hutchinson, associate senior lecturer at Örebro University in Sweden.
“There are early indications that omega-3 fatty acids can act as prebiotic compounds and help to establish a healthy gut microbiota population.”
Supplementation with both omega-3 fatty acids and probiotics has been linked to positive metabolic outcomes in the past particularly in diabetic and pre-diabetic subjects, who exhibit improvements to blood glucose levels and insulin metabolism.
Combining these elements also ties into emerging research that connects inflammation and metabolic disease and raises possibilities of the blend’s immunomodulating effects.
It has been demonstrated that certain dietary habits and nutritional supplements such as probiotics and omega-3 fatty acids can increase the diversity of gut microbiota composition and thereby reduce low-grade inflammation.
Combining probiotics and omega-3 fatty acid supplements may be a particularly beneficial strategy, as they appear to promote health in various areas through synergistic effects.
The review outlines the possibilities of this research direction citing a growing body of evidence to suggest that the blend may combine the prebiotic effect of omega-3 fatty acids with the gut rebalancing effects of probiotics.
“Although the mechanism is not well understood, omega-3 fatty acids seem to interact with the gastrointestinal microbiota and may increase levels of lipopolysaccharide (LPS)-suppressing bacteria (i.e. Bifidobacteria) and decrease LPS-producing bacteria (i.e., Enterobacteria),” the researchers say.
The team, which includes colleagues from Sweden’s Linköping University, also highlight the link between long-chain omega-3 fatty acids eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) and docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) and a lean phenotype.
One commonality is the fatty acids and the gut microbiota’s shared routes in the inhibition and activation of the immune system.
Studies have found saturated fatty acids (SFAs) are related to negative changes in the gut microbiota, leaky gut, weight gain, and pro-inflammatory status.
In contrast, omega-3 fatty acids have anti-inflammatory properties, can prevent a leaky gut, and positively modulate host microbial ecosystems.
The team states that the anti-inflammatory effects exerted by omega-3 fatty acids could benefit microbiome composition due to products of DHA metabolism.
“While SFAs enhance intestinal permeability, supplementation with DHA can help maintain gut epithelial cell barrier integrity despite excess dietary SFAs,” the team writes.
“LPS increase as a result of a high-fat diet, possibly mediated by gut permeability, which enhances LPS absorption and, thereby, raises the risk for metabolic endotoxemia, adipose tissue inflammation, and metabolic disorders.”
In concluding the review, the team point to studies suggesting a positive impact of omega-3 fatty acids and probiotics (individually and combined) on low-grade inflammation.
They add that these effects extend beyond gastrointestinal health to include positive effects on the gut-brain axis and neurological functioning.
“Hypothetically, combining omega-3 fatty acids with probiotics offers a promising strategy to prevent development of low-grade inflammation and offer non-pharmaceutical treatments,” the team concludes.
“This may be especially relevant in patient groups that suffer from increased systemic inflammation, such as aged and obese individuals.
“However, this research field is still in need of well-conducted and properly controlled clinical trials to further support this hypothesis.”
Published online: doi.org/10.3390/nu12082402
“The Potential Effects of Probiotics and ω-3 Fatty Acids on Chronic Low-Grade Inflammation.”
Authors: Ashley Hutchinson et al.