High intake of omega-3s helps fight Alzheimer’s disease, suggests study
06/05/2021 / By Brocky Wilson / Comments
High intake of omega-3s helps fight Alzheimer’s disease, suggests study

Omega-3 fatty acids are a healthy fats commonly found in fatty fish. These essential nutrients help keep you mentally sharp and play important roles in the development and healthy functions of your brain.

As it turns out, omega-3s also protect against Alzheimer’s disease and other brain disorders. This is what researchers found in a study, which shows that having high levels of omega-3s can increase blood flow in regions of your brain that are important for memory and learning.

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Omega-3s help fight Alzheimer’s disease

Omega-3s are considered essential nutrients because your body cannot them make on its own. The best sources of omega-3s are fatty fish like wild salmon and mackerel, but they can also be found in plant-based foods like nuts and seeds.

There are various types of omega-3s. The most important ones are eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA), docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) and alpha-linolenic acid (ALA). EPA and DHA are commonly found in fatty fish, while ALA is found in plants.

For their study, the researchers recruited 166 patients who recently took an Omega-3 Index test, which measures the amount of EPA and DHA in the blood. The researchers used a special brain imaging technique to measure how much blood flows in the regions of the brain that are important for memory and learning. These regions are heavily affected when you have Alzheimer’s, depression or other brain disorders.

When the researchers compared the participants’ brain scans to their Omega-3 Index test results, they found that the higher your omega-3 levels are, the higher the amount of blood that flows in those brain regions. Because blood delivers oxygen and nutrients to cells, improved blood flow to your brain can help keep your brain cells healthy and functioning optimally.

The researchers also asked the participants to take a neuropsychological test. Test results showed that higher omega-3 levels can also contribute to a positive mood.

According to lead study author Dr. Daniel Amen, their study is significant “because it shows a correlation between lower omega-3 fatty acid levels and reduced brain blood flow to regions important for learning, memory, depression and dementia.”

More reasons why omega-3s are beneficial to your brain

Omega-3s are important for your brain health for many reasons. For one, they help ward off depression and other mental disorders. Studies show that people with depression or suicidal ideations tend to have low levels of EPA and DHA. But once they take fish oil supplements, which contain EPA and DHA, the majority of them begin to feel better.

Omega-3s also support brain function by keeping your synapses strong and plastic. Synapses are junctions in your brain that connect your brain cells. They are important for your memory and learning.

Studies show that children who consume increased amounts of omega-3s perform better in school and have fewer behavioral problems. Conversely, omega-3 deficiency is associated with attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), dyslexia, bipolar disorder and schizophrenia, among others.

In an Australian study, nearly 400 children between the ages of six and 12 consumed a drink fortified with omega-3s and other nutrients. After one and a half years, they took tests that measured their verbal intelligence, learning and memory. The children earned higher scores than another group of children who did not consume the drink.

How to increase your omega-3 intake

If you wish to experience the health benefits of omega-3s, you should focus on increasing your intake of EPA and DHA. That’s because the health benefits mentioned above are specifically associated with these two omega-3s.

Foods rich in EPA and DHA include:

  • Herring
  • Salmon
  • Eel
  • Mackerel
  • Shrimp
  • Sturgeon
  • Anchovy
  • Grass-fed dairy and meat
  • Algae

You should also incorporate ALA-rich foods into your diet since ALA gets converted, albeit in small amounts, into EPA and DHA by your body. ALA is found in kale, spinach, purslane, soybeans, walnuts and seeds like chia, flax and hemp seeds.

Take note that the rate of this conversion process depends upon the amount of other nutrients in your body, such as copper, calcium, magnesium, zinc, iron, and vitamins B6 and B7. The higher the levels of these nutrients that you have, the more efficient your body becomes at converting ALA into EPA and DHA. The ALA that does not get converted is simply stored in your body or used as energy like other types of fats.

Omega-3s boost brain health in many ways. They help keep you mentally sharp, enhance your memory and protect you from Alzheimer’s and other brain disorders. Eat more foods rich in omega-3s as part of a balanced diet for better brain health.

Sources:

ScienceDaily.com 1

Healthline.com

LipidWorld.BioMedCentral.com

ScienceDaily.com 2

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