In 1989, a group of elderly individuals agreed to have their diets assessed. Their consumption of baked or broiled fish was tracked on a weekly basis for a year, and ten years later they underwent brain MRIs. Those scans revealed that the amount of grey matter in the brain had increased. Years later, scientists looked at the development of Alzheimer's in the subjects' brains. University of Pittsburgh researcher Dr. Cyrus Raji says that results were extracted from 15 years' worth of data.
"Consuming baked or broiled fish can increase grey matter volume ten years later in areas of the brain — such as the hippocampus — that are important for memory and learning. And it is this increased brain volume that can reduce the risk for Alzheimer's and mild cognitive impairment five years later," said Raji.
Raji's team wanted to follow up on a growing body of research showing the cognitive benefits of eating fish, by examining how it worked in the brain itself. He said that fish, especially when baked or broiled, contain Omega 3 Fatty Acids. Those acids carry a number of benefits, from increasing blood flow to the brain, to reducing inflammation, and reducing abnormal protein clumpings that have been linked to Alzheimer's.
But Omega 3 Acids are not produced by the human body.
"And because they can't be made by the human body, they have to be obtained in the diet. And consuming seafood, specifically fish, is the richest source by far of obtaining Omega 3 Fatty Acids," explained Raji.
More than 5 million Americans might have Alzheimer's. Raji warns that once a person has Alzheimer's, consuming fish does not affect the brain, because the damage is too extensive to repair. He says that in order to benefit the brain, it is important to start adhering to life style changes and practicing them consistently, as early as possible.