A new study funded by Abbott Nutrition has suggested that consuming more omega-3 fatty acids may benefit people at risk for Alzheimer’s disease – omega-3 fatty acids are found in many types of fish oil and other plant-based nutrition sources. Researchers looked at 40 mentally healthy adults aged 65 to 75 in the study. All of them had APOE e4, the gene variant that is known to increase the risk for late-onset Alzheimer’s. The researchers had an interesting finding. Those who consumed higher amounts of two omega-3 fatty acids, EPA, and DHA, had higher cognitive and mental flexibility. Though the results are not conclusive, they suggest that consuming EPA and DHA omega-3 fatty acids might improve mental flexibility by helping in increasing the size of the anterior cingulate cortex.
According to Aron Barbey, recent research suggests that there is a link between the degenerative neurological disorders and incidence of both cognitive impairment and nutritional deficiencies. Aron Barbey is the study co-leader and a professor of psychology, neuroscience, and hearing and speech science at the University of Illinois.
“Our findings add to the evidence that optimal nutrition helps reduce the incidence of debilitating diseases in healthy aging populations, slow the progression of aging, and preserve cognitive function.” – Aron Barbey
More Evidence Needed To Understand The Correlation Between Fish Oil and Alzheimer’s
The study was published online in the journal, Frontiers in Aging Neuroscience on May 21. However, it does not show that consuming EPA and DHA can prevent Alzheimer’s – the most common form of dementia. The study co-leader and a medical/doctoral student, Marta Zamroziewicz, said in the news release that the survey focused on areas of brain function sometimes overlooked in research on aging. Zamroziewicz added that many executive functions including cognitive flexibility had been shown to be better predictors of daily functioning than memory while most of the past studies in cognitive aging tend to focus on memory. Executive functions refer to skills such as impulse control, task switching, reasoning, problem-solving, planning, and paying attention. These are functions that tend to decline earlier than other cognitive functions in aging. Other foods like fruits and vegetables fight Alzheimer’s but fish oil could be the best because of its omega-3 content.
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