Brain Function, Inflammation & The Fish Oil Connection
by Grace McCalmon
The importance of omega 3 fatty acids – which are naturally found in fatty, cold-water fish – is more widely understood than ever.
However, not everyone gets enough omega-3s their diet. Supplementing with fish oil has been identified as one of the best ways to solve this common deficiency problem.
WHY SO LOW?
Of all nutritional deficiencies, fish oil and omega-3 fatty acids are probably the hardest to keep at a proper level. A lot of this has to do with a lack of fish consumption, especially in the US, where fish is not eaten on a regular basis.
Aside from coastal cities and towns, the vast majority of the US does not have easy access to fresh fish on a regular basis, and thus lacks one of the easiest ways to incorporate omega-3s into their diet. The importance of consuming seafood has not been truly recognized until recent years, when the benefits of fish oil came to be common knowledge.
THE MEDITERRANEAN SECRET
While the US has minimal fish consumption, European culture has a much more inclusive use of fresh fish into their diet.
For example, the average Mediterranean diet – which has been singled out as one of the healthiest in the world – it is filled with fruits, vegetables, grains, vitamin D from the sun, daily exercise and lots of fish.
Most Mediterranean people are fit, have low instances of health issues and live longer than their American counterparts. Their natural diet is considered key to their success.
FISH OIL IS ANTI-INFLAMMATORY
Fish oil is a proven anti-inflammatory that works on the joints to decrease inflammation from overuse, injury and the onset of age-related joint issues.
The technical explanation is this: Fish oil contains two Omega 3 fatty acids called docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) and eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) – precursors of certain groups of molecules called eicosanoids, that are known to control inflammation in the body.
Fish oil’s anti-inflammatory properties come from cellular action that block signals that cause the inflammation. Research in animals has shown that, because of this anti-inflammatory action, omega-3s can significantly reduce the sings and symptoms of osteoarthritis, specifically cartilage damage. This is why athletes are being turned onto fish oil – especially in sports that cause a lot of stress on the joints (i.e., running, weightlifting, hurdles, gymnastics, etc.)
The idea that only the older population can benefit from fish oil is fast becoming an old wives’ tale, as many people looking to improve their health and save their joints have begun to supplement their diet with fish oil.
FISH OIL IS BRAIN FOOD
The second largest effect that fish oil has is on several areas of brain function. Some research has shown it to be comparable to certain pharmaceutical-grade anti-depressants. Other studies have linked fish oil to enhanced memory function in animals, a reduction in ADHD symptoms, and it’s also being studied in conjunction with traditional therapies for uses in more complicated disorders, such as bipolar disorder.
WHAT IF YOU DON’T EAT FISH?
Although the potential benefits of fish oil are numerous, many people are not able to consume fresh fish daily; while other’s just don’t like the taste. If you’re not eating fish on a regular basis you can get omega-3s into your diet with a convenient, multi-vitamin enriched with high quality fish oil.
But supplements are no substitute for a healthy lifestyle. If you want to reap all the benefits of the Mediterranean way of life remember to get plenty of exercise, fresh foods, and sunshine.
If you liked this post, be sure to check out:
- 5 Tricks for getting your kids to eat their fruits, veggies
- 3 Tips for setting your family up for optimal health
- Why your family could use a multivitamin
About the Author: Dai Manuel
Dai Manuel is a Dad, Husband, Entrepreneur, Motivational Speaker, Professional Blogger, Social Media Strategist, Brand Architect, CrossFit Athlete & Coach, and soon to be published Author of the “WholeLife Fitness Manifesto”.
As a fitness retail entrepreneur, personal trainer, motivational speaker and all-around life enhancer, Dai Manuel has helped thousands of people reach their health and fitness goals through education, inspiration, and training.
His wildly popular online exercise programs and online community have allowed him to share the idea that a sustainable healthy lifestyle is possible for everyone. You can check him out at www.daimanuel.com.
Do you know anyone who could use an anti-inflammatory brain boost? Share this with them!
Do you take fish oil? What have been your experiences? We’d love to hear in the comments!
Posted on July 13, 2015
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Grace is a certified Nutritional Therapy Practitioner (NTP) and a graduate of Duke University. She received her nutrition certification from the Nutritional Therapy Association, and her training is based on the work of Dr. Weston A Price, as well as the latest peer-reviewed, scientific research.