Wednesday, August 19, 2015

Back to school Brain Food

It's easy to find information on line about the benefits of eating more fish, but below I've assembled some that I thought were particularly interesting -- feeding your kids a healthy, brain friendly diet will most likely help them do better in school.  

There's a reason why fish is referred to as brain food - because it is. Here is some advice from the UK, as reported on the BBC:
Eat oily fish
Essential fatty acids (EFAs) cannot be made by the body and must be obtained through diet. The most effective omega-3 fats occur naturally in oily fish as EPA and DHA. They are good for healthy brain function, the heart, joints and general well being. Oily fish contains EPA and DHA in a ready-made form, which enables the body to use it easily. The main sources of oily fish include salmon, trout, mackerel, herring and sardines. Low DHA levels have been linked to a higher risk of developing Alzheimer's disease and memory loss.

A medical study done in New Zealand concluded:
'Maintaining brain health and getting your brain to perform at its optimal capacity is just as vital as maintaining physical well being and health.' 
     DHA, is one of the most highly concentrated fats in the brain and known to play a vital role in the structure and functioning of the brain. But as the body cannot effectively make this fatty acid it must be consumed as part of the diet.
     Researchers highlighted that as many people fail to eat enough fish and seafood, the brain's performance is potentially compromised.
     Professor Stonehouse added: 'These findings contribute to the growing body of research showing that omega-3's play a very important role in brain function throughout the life cycle, even in healthy cognitively intact individuals.'

Eating baked or broiled fish once a week is good for the brain, regardless of how much omega-3 fatty acid it contains, according to researchers at the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine. The findings, published online recently in the American Journal of Preventive Medicine, add to growing evidence that lifestyle factors contribute to brain health later in life.
"Our study shows that people who ate a diet that included baked or broiled, but not fried, fish have larger brain volumes in regions associated with memory and cognition," Dr. Becker said. "We did not find a relationship between omega-3 levels and these brain changes, which surprised us a little. It led us to conclude that we were tapping into a more general set of lifestyle factors that were affecting brain health of which diet is just one part."
Lead investigator Cyrus Raji, M.D., Ph.D., who now is in radiology residency training at UCLA, and the research team analyzed data from 260 people who provided information on their dietary intake, had high-resolution brain MRI scans, and were cognitively normal at two time points during their participation in the Cardiovascular Health Study (CHS), a 10-year multi-center effort that began in 1989 to identify risk factors for heart disease in people over 65.
"The subset of CHS participants answered questionnaires about their eating habits, such as how much fish did they eat and how was it prepared," Dr. Raji said. "Baked or broiled fish contains higher levels of omega-3s than fried fish because the fatty acids are destroyed in the high heat of frying, so we took that into consideration when we examined their brain scans."
People who ate baked or broiled fish at least once a week had greater grey matter brain volumes in areas of the brain responsible for memory (4.3 percent) and cognition (14 percent) and were more likely to have a college education than those who didn't eat fish regularly, the researchers found. But no association was found between the brain differences and blood levels of omega-3s. (There's more good stuff in fish than just omega 3s). 
"This suggests that lifestyle factors, in this case eating fish, rather than biological factors contribute to structural changes in the brain," Dr. Becker noted. "A confluence of lifestyle factors likely are responsible for better brain health, and this reserve might prevent or delay cognitive problems that can develop later in life."
Cyrus A. Raji, Kirk I. Erickson, Oscar L. Lopez, Lewis H. Kuller, H. Michael Gach, Paul M. Thompson, Mario Riverol, James T. Becker.Regular Fish Consumption and Age-Related Brain Gray Matter LossAmerican Journal of Preventive Medicine, 2014; DOI:10.1016/j.amepre.2014.05.037

13-year-old Evan O'Dorney of Danville, Calif. won the Scripps National Spellling Bee in 2007 (he came in 14th in 2006) with the tradition of eating fish for dinner before every competition, except for the big one he won, because they didn't offer it on the menu. Evidently he'd had enough already to keep him smart. In 2011, as a senior in high school, this fish-eating wonder won the top award of $100,000 from the Intel Foundation for his mathematical project in which he compared two ways to estimate the square root of an integer. Evan discovered precisely when the faster way would work. As a byproduct of Evan's research he solved other equations useful for encrypting data. This furthered an interest he developed as early as age 2, when he was checking math textbooks out of the library. He went on to Harvard, where he won even more awards and accolades. 

I know, I know, a sample of one. But he eats fish regularly and is really, really smart! His favorite food - a tuna sandwich. 

Want your kids to do well in school and go to college? Feed them fish, every week! 

1 comment:

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