Fish for a Healthy Brain
Reported December 5, 2011
(Ivanhoe Newswire) -- Time to dust off those fishing poles and start reeling
towards a healthy brain! According to a recent study, people who eat baked or
broiled fish on a weekly basis may be improving their brain health and reducing
their risk of developing mild cognitive impairment, MCI, and Alzheimer's
"This is the first study to establish a direct relationship between fish
consumption, brain structure and Alzheimer's risk," Cyrus Raji, M.D, Ph.D,
University of Pittsburg Medical Center and the University of Pittsburg School of
Medicine, was quoted as saying. "The results showed that people who consumed
baked or broiled fish at least on time per week had better preservation of gray
matter volume and MRI in brain areas at risk for Alzheimer's disease."
Alzheimer's disease is an incurable, progressive brain disease that slowly
destroys memory and cognitive skills. According to the National Institute on
Aging, as many as 5.1 million Americans may have Alzheimer's disease. In MCI,
memory loss is present but to a lesser extent than in Alzheimer's disease.
People with MCI often go on to develop Alzheimer's disease.
For the study, of the 260 patients 163 of them consumed fish on a weekly basis,
and the majority ate fish one to four times per week. These individuals were
cognitively normal and selected from the Cardiovascular Health Study and
information on fish was gathered using the National Cancer Institute Food
Each patient underwent 3D volumetric MRI of the brain. Voxel-based morphometry,
a brain mapping technique that measures gray matter volume, was used to model
the relationship between weekly fish consumption at baseline and brain structure
10 years later. The data were than analyzed to determine if gray matter volume
preservation associated with fish consumption reduced risk for Alzheimer's
Gray matter volume is crucial to brain health. When it remains higher, brain
health is being maintained. Decreases in gray matter volume indicate that brain
cells are shrinking.
The findings showed that consumption of baked or broiled fish on a weekly basis
was positively associated with gray matter volumes in several areas of the brain
and volumes in relation to fish consumption reduced the risk for five-year
decline to MCI or Alzheimer's.
"Consuming baked or broiled fish promotes stronger neurons in the brain's gray
matter by making them larger and healthier," Raji was quoted as saying. "This
simple lifestyle choice increases the brain's resistance to Alzheimer's disease
and lowers risk for the disorder."
The results also demonstrated increased levels of cognition in people who ate
baked or broiled fish.
"Working memory is destroyed by Alzheimer's disease. We found higher levels of
working memory in people who ate baked or broiled fish on a weekly basis, even
when accounting for other factors, such as education, age, gender and physical
activity," Raji was quoted as saying.
Eating fried fish, on the other hand, was not shown to increase brain volume or
protect against cognitive decline.