Oily fish is brain medicine and here’s why

January 3, 2008 by  
Filed under ALZHEIMER'S

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Many claims have been made for Omega-3 fatty acids, especially DHA, but the Journal of Neuroscience, December 26, 2007, has an explanation for why they fight Alzheimer’s disease. According to researchers in California and Japan, DHA helps prevent the buildup of beta-amyloid in the brain, which is the most typical symptom of Alzheimer’s disease.

To quote from the abstract, “Reduced mRNA and protein for an apolipoprotein E (ApoE) receptor family member, SorLA (LR11) has been found in [late-onset Alzheimer’s disease] but not early-onset.” But giving fish oil (high in DHA) to insulin-resistant rodents increased their LR11 levels.

You’ve just read a lot of big technical words, but the point is that eating oily fish seems to fight Alzheimer’s disease. In an earlier article in this blog, Omega 3 Fish Oil And Alzheimer’s Disease, we mentions some studies that suggested fish oil helps the brain, but this latest research helps to explain why.

DHA is found in fish oil and in oily fish. Herrings and sardines are lower on the food chain, so they have fewer toxins than the fish that eat them, such as mackerel, lake trout, albacore tuna and salmon. Even the little fish get most of their DHA by eating microalgae. Peru is the largest provider of oily fish.

Of course, diet is certainly not the only issue in Alzheimer’s disease. Reduced LR11 can also have genetic causes – you can inherit the tendency to produce less of this receptor. But you can’t control your genetics. You can control your diet.

Now, the question is, do you enjoy any of these healthy fishes? Most of them are love-it-or-hate-it foods. I mean, they’re oily. But that’s exactly the point. You can take fish oil supplements and avoid the fish, but I always prefer to eat the good food directly. I feel like I’m over a barrel. economically speaking, when I have to get my nutrition from an expensive bottle. But two spoonfuls of fish oil may be easier to handle for many people than a half a plateful of fish.

My grandmother, who had Alzheimer’s disease, didn’t eat much fish. Meals on Wheels sent her some on Fridays, though she wasn’t Catholic. But it was probably cod, not mackerel or sardines. I don’t think she liked oily fish. Too bad. It might have helped her. But it reminds me of a joke my father makes about a food he doesn’t like: “It doesn’t make you live longer. It just feels that way.” If you’ve ever had a spoonful of cod liver oil, you’ll remember how slowly time passed while it went down your throat. But which would you choose: fish oil or Alzheimer’s disease?

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One Response to “Oily fish is brain medicine and here’s why”
  1. Thanks for visiting Alzheimer’s Notes and leaving a comment about the foods Liz posted there. You have an informative site here.

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