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3 Ways Omega-3s Promote Gut Health, Function & Integrity*

Woman with Hand on Stomach
Image by Sergey Filimonov / Stocksy
April 19, 2022

Omega-3s offer incredible benefits that extend beyond heart and brain health support.* One unexpected perk of consuming omega-3s? Gut health.

It turns out a high-quality probiotic isn’t the only supplement that supports a healthy gut; evidence shows that getting sufficient omega-3s regularly via diet and supplementation bolsters gut function and overall health to promote healthy digestion, detoxification, immunity, and mental well-being.*

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3 ways omega-3s promote gut health.

A 2021 scientific review titled Associations among Dietary Omega-3 Polyunsaturated Fatty Acids, the Gut Microbiota, and Intestinal Immunity outlines the ways omega-3s can help modulate the gut microbiome and promote gut immunity.* 

Here are three of the most impactful ways these unique fats promote gut health:

1.

Influence gut microbiota.

Our gut microbiota are made up of a diverse, complex community that's affected by a myriad of nutrients and bioactives—including omega-3 fatty acids. It turns out omega-3s play a part in regulating both the diversity and abundance of gut microbiota (specifically, the beneficial bacteria).* 

In fact, higher concentrations of omega-3s in the blood are correlated with an elevated abundance of microbiota in the gut—and not just from diet.* A 2017 review1 published in the International Journal of Molecular Sciences found that the gut microbiota of adults positively changed after taking omega-3 supplements.*

(Another reason to take high-quality fish oil every day, if you aren't already!)

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2.

Support gut function & immunity.

Let's talk about a crucial element of immune system defense: mucus. The optimal function of the gastrointestinal mucus system2 is integral to gut health and immunity, and omega-3s play a key role in helping promote mucus (aka mucosal) integrity.* 

These healthy polyunsaturated fatty acids help protect intestinal cells, support intestinal mucosal thickness, and promote proper barrier function of the intestinal mucosa, all of which are vital for immune function in the gut.*

In a 2019 preclinical animal study published in Food & Function, marine omega-3s EPA and DHA, specifically, were found to aid intestinal barrier function and integrity.* 

3.

Bolster anti-inflammatory actions.

Omega-3s have some seriously potent anti-inflammatory properties that help promote gastrointestinal, cardiovascular, neurological, joint, and whole-body health.*

In addition to modulating the production of anti-inflammatory compounds, omega-3s are known to modulate critical immune responses and combat pro-inflammatory pathways in the gut.*

Thanks to their anti-inflammatory and antioxidant actions, omega-3s also help combat oxidative stress in immune and intestinal cells to help support the body's immune defenses and protect the gut.* Omega-3s truly take the term "healthy fat" to another level!

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The bottom line.

Given their widespread benefits, it's pretty obvious that omega-3s are vitally important to gut health and function—but the relationship goes the other way too.* 

Microorganisms in the GI tract are crucial for the biotransformation of fatty acids. In other words, a healthy gut is key for optimal absorption and metabolism of omega-3 fatty acids.

Consider pairing a high-potency, sustainably sourced fish oil supplement (like mbg's omega-3 potency+) with a targeted, high-quality probiotic (like mbg's probiotic+) to comprehensively support gut health, bolster intestinal barrier function, and elevate gut microbial abundance and diversity.*

If you are pregnant, breastfeeding, or taking medications, consult with your doctor before starting a supplement routine. It is always optimal to consult with a health care provider when considering what supplements are right for you.
Morgan Chamberlain
Morgan Chamberlain
mbg Supplement Editor

Morgan Chamberlain is a supplement editor at mindbodygreen. She graduated from Syracuse University with a Bachelor of Science degree in magazine journalism and a minor in nutrition. Chamberlain believes in taking small steps to improve your well-being—whether that means eating more plant-based foods, checking in with a therapist weekly, or spending quality time with your closest friends. When she isn’t typing away furiously at her keyboard, you can find her cooking in the kitchen, hanging outside, or doing a vinyasa flow.