Senior moments. Brain burps. Cognitive cramps. No matter what you call those temporary moments of forgetfulness, when you reach a certain age what was once simply frustrating can suddenly become downright terrifying.
You find yourself wondering if this could be cognitive decline, the first step on the path to Alzheimer’s disease.
Well first things first, take a deep breath and don’t panic.
Because experts say if you’re aware enough to know you’ve forgotten something, and clear enough to ask the question, chances are it isn’t dementia.
As we get older senior moments are perfectly normal. More often than not it’s just a case of not paying attention. Perhaps because you have a lot on your mind, or are stressed.
Which is why you’re often able to recall why you walked into the room, or where you left your keys, later when you stop worrying about it so much.
But I get it, your fear is normal. Losing your memory is scary.
In fact, survey after survey has found Alzheimer’s is one of the diseases we fear most, right up there with cancer.1,2,3 And this devastatingly cruel disease won’t just steal away your memories, it eventually can take your life, too. So being concerned just makes sense.
Cases of Alzheimer’s are expected to triple in the coming decades. And there’s no cure in sight. Which means now, more than ever, we should be talking about what we can do to prevent cognitive decline and dementia.
And it turns out researchers have recently stumbled onto some answers.
Omega-3s boost blood flow in the brain
In animal studies anti-inflammatory omega-3 fatty acids have shown promise fighting the plaques and tangles that build up in the brains of folks with Alzheimer’s disease. And now researchers say they can confirm that they could very well do the same for us too.
According to the new study, published in the Journal of Alzheimer’s Disease, high levels of omega-3s are linked to increased blood flow in specific areas of the brain related to memory.4
Using a special type of scan, researchers were able to measure blood flow in the brain as volunteers performed a number of cognitive tasks.
Researchers then compared those images to the levels of EPA and DHA omega-3 fatty acids in folk’s blood. It turns out the volunteers with the highest omega-3 levels also had the highest blood flow to the regions in the brain associated with memory and cognition.
Lead author Daniel Amen, MD says the findings are so important because it also shows that lower levels of omega-3 fatty acids are linked to reduced blood flow in the areas of the brain critical for learning and memory.
Better brain aging with fatty acids
And this isn’t the only time we’ve seen how important fatty acids are for keeping our brains firing on all cylinders. In fact, two more recent studies also linked healthy brain aging to the amount of omega-3s we’re getting.
In both studies researchers looked at how polyunsaturated fatty acids affect the health of older adults ages 65 to 75.
The first study compared volunteer’s brain structures and how well they did on cognitive tests to their fatty acid levels. They found a link between omega-3s and the type of intelligence that allows us to solve new problems.5
Folks with higher levels of certain omega-3s did better on tests of their fluid intelligence. Plus they had beefier frontoparietal cortices, an area of the brain that naturally declines as we age.
In the second study researchers found a healthy balance of omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids are linked to better memory in older folks. And that means that since the typical Western diet is far too high in omega-6s focusing on raising your omega-3s could help you hold onto your memories longer.6
When most folks think of omega-3s they think of seafood. And it’s true, fish is a great choice for getting more EPA and DHA omega-3s into your diet. Look for wild-caught and fatty varieties such as mackerel and salmon.
Not a big fish fan? No problem a fermented cod liver oil supplement works too. Good sources of the plant-based omega-3 ALA are…
- chia seed
Put the brakes on brain aging, and stop Alzheimer’s BEFORE it starts, by boosting your omega-3s.
1. “What America Thinks MetLife Foundation Alzheimer’s Survey,” February 2011, Study Conducted by Harris Interactive for MetLife Foundation
2. “Public beliefs and knowledge about risk and protective factors for Alzheimer’s disease,” Alzheimers Dement. 2014 Oct; 10(0): S381–S389
3. “Older adults’ concerns about cognitive health: commonalities and differences among six United States ethnic groups,” Ageing & Society 31, 2011, 1202–1228
4. “Quantitative Erythrocyte Omega-3 EPA Plus DHA Levels Are Related to Higher Regional Cerebral Blood Flow on Brain SPECT. Journal of Alzheimer’s Disease,” Journal of Alzheimer’s Disease, 18 May 2017, vol. Preprint, no. Preprint, pp. 1-11, 2017
5. “Determinants of fluid intelligence in healthy aging: Omega-3 polyunsaturated fatty acid status and frontoparietal cortex structure,” Nutritional Neuroscience, May 11, 2017, Preprint Vol. 0 , Iss. 0,0
6. “Predictors of Memory in Healthy Aging: Polyunsaturated Fatty Acid Balance and Fornix White Matter Integrity,” Aging and Disease, Accepted Date: 02 May 2017, 10.14336/AD.2017.0501
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