Did you know that Alzheimer’s is the most feared disease in the U.S.? (Some surveys put cancer in first place while Alzheimer’s comes in second.) Losing memory and brain power is frightening, so it’s no wonder that so many of us rank it at the top of the list of diseases to be avoided. The way to prevent Alzheimer’s is to prevent or reverse the risk factors associated with it. The Brain Warrior’s Way and my book The Omni Diet can help with that. One of the reasons I recommend adding fish to your diet and taking fish oil supplements is that the omega-3 fatty acids it contains are vital to brain health (as well as to the health of your heart, eyes, joints; they also lower the risk of colon, breast and prostate cancer).
And now we know a bit more about what omega-3s do for the brain: a study published in the journal Neurology found that the higher your blood levels of omega-3s, the larger your brain volume as you get older. This is really important because with age, the brain naturally shrinks. What’s more, the study showed that high levels of fish oil were associated with a larger hippocampus, the brain area that plays a huge role in memory. Earlier studies have found that in Alzheimer’s disease, the hippocampus begins to shrink even before symptoms appear. But these age-related changes can be prevented.
For the new study, researchers at the University of South Dakota tested for omega-3 levels in red blood cells from 1,111 women participating in a national memory study. Eight years later, when the average age of the women was 78, they all had MRIs to measure their brain volume. The scans showed that women who had high blood levels of omega-3s when they entered the study had larger total brain volumes. This was great news for these women since as we get older, brain volume tends to shrink, which is a normal sign of aging but can also mean Alzheimer’s disease.
More Fish, Please
The study results are good news for the rest of us, too. Here’s what the study author, James V. Pottala, PhD, of the University of South Dakota, had to say about the findings: “These higher levels of fatty acids can be achieved through diet and the use of supplements, and the results suggest that the effect on brain volume is the equivalent of delaying the normal loss of brain cells that comes with aging by one to two years.” The study didn’t prove that bigger brain volume protects against Alzheimer’s – that’s to be studied separately.
If you’ve read my books The Brain Warrior’s Way and The Omni Diet, you know that I regard the omega-3s as a superstar nutrient and recommend eating fish frequently or at the very least taking a daily supplement that gives you between 1 to 2 grams of high-quality fish oil balanced between the two fatty acids, eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) and docosahexaenoic acid (DHA).
Even if fish is not your favorite food, I’m confident that you’ll change your mind when you try some of my recipes. You can find a number of them on this site, www.tanamen.com. Try Simple Shrimp Scampi, which is really easy and soooo delicious, or Cedar Plank Salmon (ditto). I promise you that on the The Brain Warrior’s Way and The Omni Diet, you’ll eat very well, have an abundance of healthy, wholesome and delicious food to choose from and that you’ll see and feel results fast. Just give me two weeks! And you can be sure that you’re doing the right thing for your body and your brain.