Fish for brains

written by The WellBeing Team


It has been folk lore for centuries that eating fish is good for the brain. For some time it was thought that this might be due to the excellent protein found in fish but in recent times it is fish oil that has been getting all the publicity. Much of that attention has been around anti-inflammatory effects that benefit the heart and conditions like arthritis. There has also been evidence that fish oil and its omega-3 fatty acids can benefit brain related conditions like ADHD in children. Now a new study has found that supplementing with fish oil can change the brain structure of adults.

The study included more than 800 people who were followed for three years. Of these around fourteen per cent were regular fish oil users. The researchers compared cognitive function and brain atrophy between the fish oil users and those who did not use fish oil.

Those who took fish oil showed better cognitive function during the study. This has been shown in other research but there was another interesting finding from this study. Brain images revealed that fish oil users had higher brain volumes in the cerebral cortex and the hippocampus, brain areas involved in cognitive function and memory. Those taking fish oil also had less overall brain shrinkage during the course of the study.

Importantly, these findings only held true for people who had normal baseline cognitive function and who did not have a an active APOE4 gene. This APOE4 is a known risk factor for Alzheimer’s Disease.

So that means fish oil can give your brain’s cognitive and memory functions a real boost to the extent that it will even alter brain structure, but it can’t overcome genetics. Still, there’s only so much that a tuna can be expected to achieve!

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The WellBeing Team