Health 101: Can Eating Fish Really Prevent Alzheimer's?
Posted in: HEALTH
It's a fact that the number of individuals developing an Alzheimer's disease is steadily rising.
In 2013 alone, over 815,000 people with dementia were reported in the United Kingdom, and the number is predicted to increase by 40% over the next 12 years or so. Within the next four decades, a rise of 156% is expected to affect over 2 million individuals in the UK as well. Although the exact cause is still unknown, research has come a long way paving for us to understand more about the brain than ever before so we can take preventative measures against this degenerative disease.
Now, you may have heard this before: fish is brain food. There is truth behind this statement, especially in terms of Alzheimer's prevention. But how does fish support brain health? And how often should you be eating fish? These are the types of questions we'll explore below.
The Connection Between Fish and Alzheimer's
As we age, our brains begin to shrink. This happens regardless of Alzheimer's, Parkinson's, or any other degenerative condition. However, those with Alzheimer's tend to experience this shrinking much more aggressively.
Not only is the size of the brain affected, but the brain tissue itself displays damage. Those with Alzheimer's will have fewer healthy brain cells, with a build-up of plaque. This is where fish and other omega-3 fatty acid ingredients come into play.
When you eat fish, you are taking in essential omega-3 fatty acids. What does this mean? Well, ‘essential’ means that our bodies cannot produce this fatty acid on their own. We need to get it from our diet. One of the key fatty acids in fish is known as DHA (docosahexaenoic acid).
This fatty acid is believed to aid in cell communication. When cells can no longer communicate effectively we start to see cognitive defects. This is why a lack of omega-3 is thought to create a potential communication breakdown in the brain.
It is said that the plaque build-up seen in Alzheimer's disease may be a possible main cause. The plaque is simply clumps of protein which accumulate in the brain. Plaque may be directly linked to inflammation, which can be reduced through omega-3 consumption. It may even help improve dementia symptoms in someone who has already been diagnosed.
Multiple studies have shown that, in terms of brain size, those who have higher levels of omega-3 fatty acids tend to have larger brains. More specifically, those who consume high levels of omega-3 have a larger volume in the hippocampus region of their brain.
The hippocampus is responsible for the brain's core memory centre. Since memory loss is one of the key symptoms of Alzheimer's and other forms of dementia, it's important to focus on this memory centre. Remember, the food that you consume is fuel for your body and brain. Your diet can directly influence both your physical and mental health.
What Foods Provide Omega-3 Fatty Acids?
As mentioned, fish are the most common source of DHA. You will find the highest concentrations in oily fish, such as mackerel, salmon, sardines, herring and tuna. You can also find DHA in organ meat, fish oil, and even in some egg yolks.
If you are vegetarian or vegan you can still obtain this essential fatty acid. This is because algae is a significant source of DHA. In fact, that’s what provides fish with their high DHA content. Either the fish directly eat the algae, or they eat prey that has been feeding on this marine algae.
It is recommended that you eat fish at least twice weekly. The way you cook your fish is also a key area to focus on, as fried fish does not provide you with the omega-3 fatty acids you need. Instead you should bake, grill, broil or steam your fish. You can also take fish oil, as well as other related supplements to fill this requirement.
Take proactive measures against Alzheimer's and dementia by incorporating more omega-3 fatty acids into your diet. You should also take regular exercise, give up smoking and limit your alcohol consumption. Although the direct cause of Alzheimer's is unknown, we do know that diet directly affects your mental condition, so make sure you take more foods rich in omega-3 fatty acids and protect your physical and cognitive health into the future.
MYC Writer: Krista HillisSubscribe to UpdatesRelated Articles