Posted on Feb 25, 2019, 3 p.m.
Omega-3 intake has been found to slow brain aging by boosting nutrient circulation to memory related brain regions in a pair of studies conducted by the University of Illinois published in the Nutritional Neuroscience Journal and Aging & Disease.
There may not be a whole lot we can do to stop the process of aging, but there are some things we can do to age healthy and slow down the process; to add to the growing body of evidence researchers have found that healthy brain aging can be promoted via intake of the right proportion of omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids.
The studies examined relationships between the levels of omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids in the blood, cognitive performance, and brain structure. Brains are complex organs composed of many interconnected parts that can age at different rate, meaning some brain structures and their associated functions can deteriorate earlier than others.
The first study investigated the frontoparietal network responsible for fluid intelligence, that allows you to solve new problems not encountered in the past. Those with higher levels of certain omega-3 fatty acids, particularly ALA, ecosatrienoic acid, and stearidonic acid, were found to have larger frontoparietal cortex regions, and performed better on fluid intelligence testing.
The second study investigated the white matter structure in the fornix region that is vital for memory and is located in the middle of the brain; size of the fornix was found to be linked with balanced blood levels of omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids, adults who had better memories tended to have bigger fornix regions.
Western diets typically have the wrong balance, having higher omega-6 fatty acids and lower omega-3 levels. Eating fish and fish oil can be an effective way to obtain neuroprotective effects offered by these fats, but those found in seeds, nuts, and olive oil can also have an impact on the brain, adds Marta Zamroziewicz.
The ideal ratio according to the researchers is between 1:1 and 4:1, which varies depending on who is asked; average American diet is typically 16:1. Studies show that a ratio of 4:1 is linked to a 70% decrease in mortality among those with cardiovascular disease.
Omega-3 can help to fight cancer, cardiovascular disease, inflammation, bowel disease, and regulate moods. Omega-6 are important to brain function, development, and help to regulate the metabolism; however too much is linked to depression, heart disease, prostate tumor growth, and breast cancer.
The human body is not able to make omega fatty acids on its own so they must be obtained through food and/or supplements, however it is always best to obtain them naturally through foods such as walnuts, olive oil, salmon, raw seeds, nuts, kale, and broccoli.
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