We Don’t Know For Sure, Yet. But This May Be No Fish Story.
The fact that fish is good for you really isn’t news any more; we’ve known it for a while. Eating fish – the right kinds of fish – a couple of times a week can lower your blood pressure, strengthen your heart, and increase your ability to fight disease. So what’s new?
Well…this: A newly-released study by the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center shows evidence that eating baked or broiled fish at least once a week may help preserve our memory and our ability to learn.
Apparently, people in the study who eat fish had a larger brain volume in areas related to memory and learning.
Researchers followed 260 healthy seniors in a ten-year study. Each of the participants was administered 3-D MRIs. And each completed a comprehensive Food Frequency Questionnaire put out by the National Cancer Institute.
The results were very intriguing…to say the least. The brains of the people who ate fish at least once a week were larger in a number of areas (whose technical terms need not be mentioned here) than the brains of people who didn’t. With the methodology they utilized, Pitt researchers were able to link the larger brain size to a lower risk of Alzheimer’s and other memory problems. How much lower? Five times! That’s right – people who ate fish had a five times lower risk of getting Alzheimer’s. And the group’s conclusions extended beyond just Alzheimer’s and the probabilities of getting it. In addition to the conclusions about lower Alzheimer’s risk, the study concluded that fish-eaters appeared to have better “working memory.”
One of the researchers, Cyrus Raji, opined that eating a half-serving of fish a day “would be a very small lifestyle change that can affect disease risk a long time down the line.”
Of course, one study cannot possibly establish a cause-and-affect connection. Most likely, even several more studies – now matter how compelling – could not definitely establish that connection. There’s no straight line from speculation to fact at this point. The connection between eating fish and a lower Alzheimer’s risk is only fuzzy right now, not clear.
Richard Lipton, vice chair of neurology at the Albert Einstein College of Medicine in New York City, pointed out that much more study would be required before any conclusions could be drawn. He noted that people who eat fish, for example, may have a tendency to make other healthy lifestyle choices, as well…all of which could play a role in preventing Alzheimer’s and memory loss. For example, maybe fish-eaters exercised more, or ate more vegetables, or less red meat. Until we know for sure, it’s really all just speculation.
Nonetheless, it may not be too much of a stretch to believe that a food that can do much for your physical health may also provide benefits to your brain health.
What kinds of fish are best, you ask? Well, on that question, most of the experts agree: Cold water fish, such as salmon, mackerel, and sardines, seem to produce the most health benefits. (Wild is generally preferable to farmed.) Some researchers believe swordfish can also provide the same benefits. And, although there’s hardly a researcher in the world who wouldn’t recommend whole foods over supplements, it couldn’t hurt to take an Omega-3 pill once or twice a day; this provides beneficial fish oils.
It’s not that eating fish would be a hardship for the taste buds, either. It’s easy to prepare and delicious to eat. And all you really need to do to it is add a spice or two and maybe squeeze some fresh lemon onto it.
What if it’s true? What if eating fish, in addition to its other health benefits, could lessen your chances of developing Alzheimer’s or other diseases of the brain? Would you do it?
Doesn’t seem like a tough decision, does it?
At The Law Offices of Alice Reiter Feld & Associates, we have an extensive research library on issues of importance to seniors and Boomers. You can use it to find out more about how you can preserve – and even enhance – your brain health as well as your physical health. You’ll find a ton of resources at http://www.floridamemorylawyer.com.
We’re Alzheimer’s specialists. And we know that the best way to deal with Alzheimer’s is to do everything within your power not to get it in the first place!
But always keep this in mind: If a loved one is stricken with Alzheimer’s or another memory issue, we’ll be there to help…both the patient and the care-givers. Every step of the way.
And that’s no fish story!