Monday, September 03, 2018 by Isabelle Z.
Alzheimer’s disease is currently the sixth leading cause of death for Americans. It’s a devastating brain disease that impacts memory, behavior, and thinking, and although its growing prevalence has spurred a rise in research into the illness, there remains no cure. For now, the best thing you can do if you are concerned about Alzheimer’s is try to prevent it – and an important study suggests that natural omega-3 fatty acids are a valuable tool for doing so.
Researchers from Charite – Universitatsmedizin Berlin studied the effects that a daily dosage of 2200 mg of omega-3 fatty acids could have on memory function over the course of six months. They were seeking a long-term prevention method that is suitable for use in older patients and easy to make a part of daily life. Because omega-3 fatty acids fit the bill and directly affect nerve cell function, they decided to take a closer look at them.
The researchers found that those participants who took omega-3 fatty acids recorded greater improvements on object location memory tasks than those who were given a placebo made of sunflower oil. Although these improvements did not extend to a verbal learning test that was also administrated, the results are still quite promising.
The researchers concluded: “Results from this study suggest that a long-term approach to prevention is particularly effective in preserving cognitive function in older individuals. A targeted approach involving dietary supplements can play a central role in this regard.”
A bigger clinical study is needed to determine whether the improvements the researchers found can make a big enough difference in daily life. Next, they plan to investigate the effects of supplementing with a combination of vitamin B and omega-3 fatty acids. Research from Oxford University has shown that this combination could have synergistic effects.
In another study that was published in the Journal of Alzheimer’s Disease, researchers found that patients who have high levels of omega-3 have increased blood flow in specific areas of their brains.
The study, which was considered a major advance, used single photon emission computed tomography (SPECT) to measure blood flow in the brain. They also found a correlation between omega-3 levels and various psychological feelings.
In that study, a random sample of 166 patients were categorized into two groups that were given different concentrations of EPA and DHA. SPECT was used to examine 128 regions in the participants’ brains, and they were also given computerized tests to assess their neurocognitive status.
One of the study’s co-authors, University of South Dakota School of Medicine’s William S Harris, Ph.D. said: “This study opens the door to the possibility that relatively simple dietary changes could favorably impact cognitive function.”
With the number of Americans affected by Alzheimer’s expected to reach 16 million by the year 2050, there’s never been a better time for people to improve their diets in ways that can prevent illnesses like this one.
There are lots of great dietary sources of omega-3. Mackerel, salmon and herring are some of the best sources, and they are also simple to prepare and easy to incorporate into your diet. You can also find relatively high amounts in sardines, anchovies, and oysters. If you’re not a seafood fan, you can turn to sources such as chia seeds, flax seeds, and walnuts.
Alzheimer’s can take a devastating toll on families, especially those who are tasked with taking care of someone who is suffering from this illness. As scientists continue to struggle to find a cure, you owe it to yourself and your loved ones to do everything you can to try to prevent it.
Read Alzheimers.news for more coverage of Alzheimer’s prevention.
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