Brain Health and Mood

Omega-3 Fatty Acids Linked to Healthy Brain in Aging

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omega-3 and omega-6 boost brain healthWhen it comes to aging, a healthy brain is as important as a healthy body if not more so. Omega-3 fatty acids have been linked to healthy brain in aging. Two recent studies show that these fats, along with omega-6, can promote healthy aging.

Let’s face it. Aging sucks. In fact, music superstar Cher used those two very words when she was asked about what she enjoyed most about aging. Movies superstar, Sylvester Stallone, expressed similar sentiments;

“The best thing about getting older is … nothing. There’s zero good in getting older.” For Stallone, he would rather have his youth back than the wisdom that comes with age”, Stallone is quoted as saying.

Unfortunately, the inevitability of aging is all too real. So, while the good guys of science are still at work trying to find a pill or something to help keep us young longer, we can only try and make the best of aging. Healthy – and graceful – aging is what we hope for and seek.

Our physical abilities decline with age. This is usually accompanied followed by aches and pains we rarely or ever experienced before. But for most people, it is cognitive decline that is most scary. It is therefore not surprising nootropics, also known as smart drugs or cognitive enhancers, have become popular.

But no nootropic can make up for our lifestyles. Like the rest of our body, the brain can benefit from proper nutrition and even exercise. Brain fitness is just as important and physical fitness.

Researchers at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign recently did two studies that found that dietary intake of omega-3 fatty acids can promote healthy aging.

Both studied examined patterns of polyunsaturated fatty acids in the blood of 100 “cognitively intact” adults aged between 65 and 75. The researcher analyzed the relationship between nutrient patterns and the participants’ brain structure and performance in cognitive tests.

In the first study, adults with higher levels of blood levels of three omega-3 fatty acids, ALA, stearidonic acid had larger frontoparietal cortices, which in turn, predicted their performance on fluid intelligence tests.

In the second study, researchers found that the size of the fornix, an important part of memory, was linked to the balance of omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids in the blood. Previous studies have found the fornix to be one of the first brain regions to be affected by Alzheimer’s disease.

It is important to note that the researchers studied types of fatty acids from plants, that are more easily available in the West. Most studies have been on DHA and EPA fatty acids, which come from fatty fish and sea foods that are not easily available in the West.

The first study is published in the journal Nutritional Neuroscience and the second in the journal Aging & Disease. You can read a detailed report on the UPI website.

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