13 November 2007
Newest Thoughts on Brain Food
This intriguing editorial from the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition looks at the effects of omega-3 fats on brain health. Now that more than 5 million Americans have some form of Alzheimer’s disease, and just as many suffer from vascular dementia, preventing and slowing the progression of neurodegenerative disorders is a public health imperative.
A host of recent studies, in the AJCN and elsewhere, have looked at the relation between omega-3 fats and cognitive function. These studies could eventually lead to opportunities for early intervention to maintain brain function and slow progression to dementia.
One of the best things you can do to prevent dementia--and a variety of other chronic disease--is to adhere to a nutritious diet, suitable for your nutritional type. Increase the amount of fresh vegetables, which are high in folate, in your diet, and restrict grains and sugars.
One of the crucial balancing acts on the course to better health, and warding off dementia, is mastering the ratio of omega-6 and omega-3 fats in your daily diet. Both are essential for your health. However, the typical American consumes far too many omega-6 fats and not enough omega-3 fats, like DHA.
The ideal ratio of omega-6 to omega-3 fats should be 1:1. Today, your intake ratio of omega-6 to omega-3 averages from 20:1 to 50:1!
The easiest way to balance your ratio is to consume more omega-3 fats from good sources and to reduce your intake of omega-6 fats. The primary sources of omega-6 are corn, soy, canola, safflower and sunflower oil, so avoid or limit these oils. Your best source for omega-3 is from fish oil or krill oil. This is a clean, safe and pure alternative to fresh fish.
* American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, 86(5), 1259-1260, November 2007