Brain health benefits of omega-3 fatty acids

As we age, we’re a little more likely to take it easy. We might get tired just a little more easily… and after all this time, it just seems like we shouldn’t have to work so HARD anymore. And that may be true for your body; but when it comes to your brain, you should keep it working as hard as ever as you get older!

As a reader of my e-Tips, you know that I always recommend keeping your mind active – whether it’s by taking a class and learning something new, doing the daily crossword, or even playing video games with the grandkids.

But while the brain definitely falls under the “use it or lose it” category, there’s something else you can do to keep it sharp as a tack – and new research shows that it’s both easy AND delicious.

You need more fat!

The study, published in the European Journal of Clinical Nutrition, shows that the omega-3 fatty acids that are so good for your heart health are ALSO packed with the power to boost your brain… well into your senior years.

The theory is that, since they’re both an antioxidant and an anti-inflammatory, omega-3s prevent damage to existing brain cells and can make your aging brain actually regenerate cells – and that means less of those embarrassing “senior moments.”

In a series of cognitive function tests on elderly men and women, researchers found that those who had high levels of omega-3s – and, more specifically, DHA – outperformed those with lower levels of these fatty acids in two key tests.

The “Trail Making Test” measures how fast you can complete sequences – like a line of letters or numbers – which helps assess your cognitive function and decision-making abilities. Those with higher omega-3s finished an average of 7.1 seconds faster than those with lower omega-3s.

The “Verbal Fluency Test,” on the other hand, is more like one of those word games you play on long car rides – like how many kinds of animals you can name (or countries, candies, fruits, and so on). And once again, the omega-3 group outshined the lot, listing an additional three words per minute more than the rest of the group.

What that means for you is being able to pick that one word off the tip of your tongue when you need it… and to be able to change subjects without your train of thought becoming completely derailed.

The participants in the study got their omega-3s from fish. That’s an incredibly good source of these healthy fatty acids (especially something like wild salmon); but you can also get them from nuts, avocados, and oils – or all of the above.

I also have my patients try a daily omega-3 supplement. It’s an easy daily routine that lets you reserve your brain power for more important things.

Wishing you the best of health,

Dr. Glenn S. Rothfeld
Nutrition & Healing
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Omega-3 levels linked to better cognitive performance,

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