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Food For Thought

What does “fishy fishy” have to do with your brain?

You may have never considered that what you put in your mouth, send down your esophagus and have plunge into a pool of raging acids in your stomach has a significant effect on your brain and how you think!

Your brain is the “little engine that could” of your body.  The engine will either say, “I think I can, I think I can” or be stymied with the thought “I think…umm…”

It is a highly energetic force that requires the right kind of fuel to propel neural connectivity and translate messages throughout your body within split seconds.  To reach peak performance, this industrious organ requires the right kind of fuel.  So what does your brain need to optimally function?

The brain is 60% fat and in order to maintain optimal brain health and prevent against the onset of dementia, a diet rich in cold-water, oily fish such as salmon, trout, mackerel and sardines is the solution.  Docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) is an omega-3 fatty acid that is found in high concentration in the gray matter of the brain and the retina of the eye.  It is found in oily fish, as well as seafood, and is vital for maintaining the fluidity and integrity of the brain cell membranes.

Low levels of DHA have also been linked to various mental and emotional disorders* including:

  • Memory loss,
  • Depression,
  • Bipolar disorder,
  • Schizophrenia,
  • Attention deficit disorder,
  • Autism,
  • Difficulty concentrating,
  • Irritable mood.

Incorporating fish at least twice a week into your diet helps improve communication between the brain cells, prevent against memory loss and reduce inflammation which may play a factor in the onset of Alzheimer’s disease.  Additionally, omega-3 fatty acids help lower the risk of high cholesterol, cardiovascular disease, various autoimmune diseases and cancer.  A caveat to this is that these fish may contain toxins like mercury, PCBs, heavy metals or other contaminants and should be avoided by pregnant and breastfeeding women and children.

For vegetarians who do not eat fish, omega-3 fatty acids can be eaten as flaxseeds, tofu and walnuts, but they don’t convert well into DHA.  No fear, there is an alternative way to get DHA and it is through fish oil supplements or microalgae.  However, consult with your doctor before using fish oil supplements because they affect blood clotting and should be taken with caution if you are taking any anticoagulant drugs, have had a hemorrhagic stroke or are scheduled for surgery.

Fish Oil Benefits Article.