Eating fish is said to be good for the brain and for memory. Researchers have associated those benefits with the Omega-3 fatty acids found in fish.
However, while researchers have observed the beneficial effects associated with Omega-3’s, they have been unable to describe the precise physiological changes influenced by the compound.
Now, University of Alberta researchers say they have discovered a possible explanation of how Omega-3s improve memory.
Their findings are published in the peer-reviewed journal Applied Physiology, Nutrition, and Metabolism.
Yves Sauve, Ph.D., and his team discovered lab models fed a Omega-3 diet had 30 per cent higher levels of DHA (a form of Omega-3s) in the memory section of the brain, known as the hippocampus, when compared to animal models on a regular, healthy diet.
“We wanted to find out how fish intake improves memory,” says Sauve.
“What we discovered is that memory cells in the hippocampus could communicate better with each other and better relay messages when DHA levels in that region of the brain were higher. This could explain why memory improves on a high-DHA diet.”
Sauve surmised that when a diet is supplemented with DHA, additional stores of the Omega-3 fatty acid are deposited in the brain. His team confirmed this finding, a discovery other labs have noted as well.
This finding appears to support the theory that a diet high in Omega-3s and/or dietary supplementation with Omega-3s may protect memory.
Supplementing your diet with DHA, such as increasing fish intake or taking supplements, could prevent declining DHA levels in the brain as we age, Sauve said.
Source: University of Alberta