If we leave it up to conventional medicine, all memory loss would be attributed to “just getting old.” And as you know, that’s probably my least favorite expression (other than “It’s not on sale”). But I don’t buy conventional medicine’s “white flag” approach to brain health.
The fact is, the medical establishment hasn’t put enough (scratch that—any) emphasis on all the things you can do to keep your memory strong.
But there are a number of safe, natural ways to protect and boost your brain health. In fact, a recent study showed some impressive benefits simply from eating fish once a week.
Researchers found consuming a single serving of fish per week could significantly reduce the annual rate of cognitive decline in older adults. Increased fish intake was also associated with better verbal memory scores.
This study linked these brain health benefits to a few key nutrients in fish. Of course first and foremost on the list were the omega-3s DHA and EPA. But the study authors also listed other nutrients such as vitamin D, B vitamins, the amino acids arginine and taurine, and trace minerals such as selenium and magnesium as possible contributors to the brain health benefits of fish consumption.
What the researchers didn’t mention—perhaps because they don’t know it exists—is phosphatidyl serine (PS). PS is an extremely important cell membrane component that sustains healthy cognitive function.
Most of the PS supplements in this country are made from soy, and since you know how I feel about soy, I never recommend it. But, I recently discovered a new product where the PS is combined with DHA and made from fish oil. I am not even sure it is on the market yet, but it will be soon. Which is really exciting news, because this kind of PS most closely resembles what is naturally found in the body. I’ll report back with more info about this product as it becomes available. In the meantime, back to the study I told you about above.
Fish-eaters also had better scores for composite and verbal memory, said the researchers. So as usual, Mom was right—fish is brain food.
While this study showed benefits from just a single serving, I recommend eating fish several times a week.
But when you’re eating fish on a regular basis, you do have to be aware of some potential hazards. And one of the most important factors to take into consideration is mercury content.
Keep reading and I’ll give you some tips for keeping mercury and other heavy metals off your dinner table…
How to find fish that’s both safe and healthy
As I said above, fish is indeed brain food. But the benefits go well beyond that. For instance, it’s been shown in multiple studies to reduce the risk of both heart attack and stroke.
But the benefits don’t stop there: fish has also been shown to prevent certain cancers and eye diseases, as well as elevate mood. It can even help prevent heart rhythm disturbances associated with sudden cardiac death.
There’s just one potential issue…some fish contain mercury, which isn’t exactly a health benefit. (Quite the opposite. Mercury toxicity is associated with serious health problems—including some you might not expect. And, unfortunately, it’s more common than you might think.)
Large fish like king mackerel, shark, tilefish and swordfish have the highest levels of mercury, so it’s best to limit your consumption of these varieties. Cold-water fish, like salmon and sardines, typically contain the least mercury, so they’re good staples to keep in your seafood rotation.
But keeping mercury to a minimum isn’t the only factor to take into consideration when you’re choosing fish. You should also be aware of where your seafood comes from.
Local, wild fish tend to be the best choice. Personally, I stopped eating farm-raised a few years back after visiting a local fish farm. The conditions I saw were deplorable. And this was a farm I’d heard good things about. So I decided from then on, I wouldn’t eat fish from any farm I couldn’t inspect first-hand.
And one more important note: While consuming fish is the best way to get omega-3s, I still recommend taking a quality fish oil supplement every day too (one that provides 3,000 mg of EPA and DHA). A study done by Rhode Island Hospital researchers found that regular use of fish oil supplements resulted in a significant reduction of cognitive decline and brain atrophy in older adults.
And that’s just one of many compelling reasons for taking fish oil supplements in combination with eating fresh fish regularly.
Hmmm … a healthy diet, combined with supplementation? You may just have heard me recommend that a few times before!