fish & omega-3 oils
A pilot study involving 106 participants of the Rush Memory and Aging Project who had experienced a stroke followed participants for an average of 5.9 years, testing their cognitive function and monitoring their eating habits using food journals. It was found that those whose diets scored highest on the MIND (Mediterranean-DASH Diet Intervention for Neurodegenerative Delay) diet score had substantially slower rates of cognitive decline than those who scored lowest. The estimated effect of the diet remained strong even after taking into account participants' level of education and participation in cognitive and physical activities. Those who instead scored high on the Mediterranean or DASH diets did not show the same slower decline.
Both the Mediterranean and DASH diets have been shown to be protective against coronary artery disease and stroke, but this finding suggests the MIND diet is better for overall brain health.
The MIND diet is a hybrid of the Mediterranean and DASH (Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension) diets. It has 15 components: 10 “brain-healthy food groups” and five unhealthy groups (red meat, butter, cheese, pastries and sweets, and fried or fast food).
To adhere to the MIND diet, you need to
The researchers stress that this is a preliminary study, observational only. They are currently seeking participants for a wider, intervention study.
Laurel J. Cherian & Martha Clare Morris: Presentation at the American Stroke Association's International Stroke Conference 2018 in Los Angeles, January 25.
A study involving 266 people with mild cognitive impairment (aged 70+) has found that B vitamins are more effective in slowing cognitive decline when people have higher omega 3 levels.
Participants were randomly selected to receive either a B-vitamin supplement (folic acid, vitamins B6 and B12) or a placebo pill for two years. The vitamins had little to no effect for those with low levels of omega-3 fatty acids, but were very effective for those with high baseline omega-3 levels.
Levels of DHA appeared to be more important than levels of EPA, but more research is needed to confirm that.
The finding may help to explain why research looking at the effects of B vitamins, or the effects of omega-3 oils, have produced inconsistent findings.
The study followed research showing that B vitamins can slow or prevent brain atrophy and memory decline in people with MCI, and they were most effective in those who had above average blood levels of homocysteine.
 Oulhaj A, Jernerén F, Refsum H, A. Smith D, de Jager CA. Omega-3 Fatty Acid Status Enhances the Prevention of Cognitive Decline by B Vitamins in Mild Cognitive Impairment. Journal of Alzheimer's Disease [Internet]. 2016 ;50(2):547 - 557. Available from: http://www.medra.org/servlet/aliasResolver?alias=iospress&doi=10.3233/JAD-150777
I've spoken before about how the presence or absence of the “Alzheimer's gene” may affect which lifestyle changes are beneficial for you. A new study has added to that idea with a finding that seafood consumption was associated with fewer signs of Alzheimer's-related pathology, but only among those with the APOEe4 gene.
Seafood consumption was also associated with increased mercury levels in the brain, with levels rising the more seafood was consumed. However, higher levels of mercury were not correlated with any neuropathologies.
Fish oil supplementation was not associated with any differences in neuropathology. However, higher levels of alpha-linolenic acid (an omega-3 fatty acid found in flaxseed, chia seeds, walnuts, etc) were associated with a reduced chance of cerebral infarctions.
The study involved 554 deceased participants (average age 89.9 years) from the long-running Memory and Aging Project (MAP) conducted by Rush University Medical Center. The participants had completed annual dietary questionnaires over a number of years. The brains of 286 participants were autopsied, to assess neuropathologies and mercury levels.
The average educational attainment of the participants was 14.6 years; 67% were women.
The finding tempers the evidence from many studies that eating fish reduces Alzheimer's risk. However, it is consistent with what I believe is becoming apparent: that there are different paths to Alzheimer's, and thus different factors involved in preventing it, depending on your own particular gene-environment attributes.
 Morris M, Brockman J, Schneider JA, et al. ASsociation of seafood consumption, brain mercury level, and apoe ε4 status with brain neuropathology in older adults. JAMA [Internet]. 2016 ;315(5):489 - 497. Available from: http://dx.doi.org/10.1001/jama.2015.19451
Dr McPherson's practical, research-based books are instantly available as digital downloads from the Mempowered store (all formats), Kindle Store, Kobo Store, and iTunes. They are also available in paperback.