Fish as a Food: Eating More Fish Helps to Prevent Subclinical Brain Abnormalities in Older People


Benefits of Fish as a Food

Fresh fish as a food for lifetime health A new study of the brain scans of more than 3,600 elderly people has found that high levels of Omega- 3 fatty acids (OM3) in their blood is linked to a lower risk of small brain infarcts and other brain abnormalities. The human body can make most of the types of fats it needs from other fats or raw materials. That is not the case for OM3 because the human body cannot make them from scratch but must get them from our diet, especially with fish as a food. Foods high in OM3 include salmon, herring, halibut, albacore, sardines, trout, flaxseed oil, walnut, and canola oil. Other foods that contain OM3 include shrimp,light chunk tuna, clams,cod, catfish, and spinach.

Scientists have known that brain infarcts dramatically increase the risk of developing Alzheimer’s disease and other forms of dementia and subclinical infarcts and white matter abnormalities are likely related to vascular disease of small cerebral vessels and are associated with impairments in cognition, mood and gait, with increased risk of subsequent stroke, dementia, and death.

In the new study, 3,660 people aged 65 and older underwent magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) brain scans to detect small lesions in the brain or silent brain infarcts that can cause loss of thinking skills, stroke, and dementia. Scans were performed again five years later on 2,313 of the study participants.

From prior studies, the researchers know that silent brain infarcts are present in about 20 percent of otherwise healthy elderly adults. In this new study, the research team found that those who had high long-chain OM3 content in their blood had a 40 percent lower risk of having small brain infarcts compared to those with low content of the OM3 in their blood. The study also concluded that those with the highest levels of OM3 had significantly fewer changes in the white matter of their brains. The study researchers noted that they have previously found consumption of tuna or other broiled or baked fish, but not fried fish, to be associated with lower risk of stroke and subclinical brain abnormalities using MRI. In the new study, the researchers concluded that “among older adults, higher phospholipid long‐chain omega‐3 PUFA content was associated with lower prevalence of subclinical infarcts and better white matter grade on MRI.”

The study findings do suggest that having fish as a food and taking OM3 fish oil supplements help reduce the risk of silent (or mini) strokes or what may be called silent brain (or cerebral) infarcts, in the elderly.

In our modern age, we know the importance of a nutrient-dense diet. With regard to recovery of AFS, the Adrenal Fatigue Diet is a huge piece of rebuilding our health. Finding a balance of carbohydrates, protein, and fat – such as OM3 – is needed to sustain energy and ensure stable levels of blood glucose through foods with a low-glycemic index. Fish provide a high-quality protein that also promotes proper brain functioning. Since animal proteins make up ten percent of the Adrenal Fatigue Diet, being informed about the needs of our body – some of which can only be met by our food – is especially important.

The NeuroEndoMetabolic (NEM) system is the body’s natural and automatic tool in defending itself against perceived threats such as stress. Proper nutrition and essential fatty acids are crucial to the level of performance of this system. OM3 and fish consumption help to ensure the two separate but corresponding elements of this NEM – referred to as the metabolic and neuroendocrine units – function as designed and in turn, ensure homeostasis and health.

Summary of Fish as a Food

Fish as a food for good healthThe neuroendocrine unit of this complex system includes the brain, but also the heart, GI tract, adrenals, thyroid, and autonomic nervous system. Without the proper functioning of these organs, and the hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal (HPA) axis, the anti-stress response cannot be activated. The other half of this system – the metabolic piece – utilizes the liver, pancreas, and more to act simultaneously with the neuroendocrine to make sure the body is firing on all cylinders.

The brain is the area in which we receive stress signals, but also deploy chemical messengers to the body to react to the world around us. Food sources high in OM3, such as with fish, that prevent stroke risk, dementia, and brain abnormalities is a tremendous medical breakthrough.

Source: The study was titled “Circulating Omega3 Polyunsaturated Fatty Acids and Subclinical Brain Abnormalities on MRI in Older Adults: The Cardiovascular Health Study” by Jyrki K. Virtanen, PhD;David S. Siscovick, MD, MPH; Rozenn N. Lemaitre, PhD, MPH; William T. Longstreth, MD; Donna Spiegelman, ScD; Eric B. Rimm, ScD; Irena B. King, PhD; Dariush Mozaffarian, MD, DrPH and was accepted for publication on Sep. 10, 2013 in the Journal of American Heart Association.

Fresh fish as a food for lifetime health