A balanced diet and regular exercise help the body in lowering the risks of heart disease, cancer, enhance brain function and ward off any mental disorders. Experts and scientists have been studying the effects of exercise, food and sleep to the brain. These attributes have the potential to alter the mental function and brain health of an individual. It also raises the possibility that changes in diet are accepted and viable strategy in enhancing cognitive abilities, counteracting the effects of aging and helps protect the brain from damage. The essential fat, omega-3 fatty acids that is found in cold water fish like salmon, herring, mackerel, walnuts, eggs helps improve learning and memory. It also fights other mental disorders like depression, dementia and schizophrenia.
Brain synapses connect the neurons and provide critical functions like learning and memory. The omega-3 fatty acids help support synaptic plasticity molecules that are related to memory and learning that are found in the synapses. In a nutshell, omega-3 fatty acids are essential for normal brain function. Deficiency of omega-3 fatty acids in humans has been proven to be associated with increased risk of several mental disorders that includes attention deficit disorder, dementia, dyslexia, schizophrenia and bipolar disorders.
Studies have shown that children with increased amounts of omega fatty acids performed better in their studies in school and showed fewer behavioral issues. In England, preliminary research showed that children who received omega-3 fatty acids have improved school performance. In another study in Australia, 396 kids between the age of 6 and 12 were given a drink that contains omega-3 fatty acids and other nutrients that includes folic acid, iron, zinc, vitamins, A. B6, B12 and C showed higher scores on examinations that measured their verbal intelligence as compared to a group of students that received normal diets.
Omega-3 Food Sources vs Supplements
Experts have stated that getting omega-3 fatty acids from food rather than supplements can be more beneficial because food provides additional nutrients. DHA or docosahexaenoic acid which is abundant in cold water fish helps reduce oxidative stress and it enhances the synaptic plasticity, learning, memory and enhance the cell membranes in the brain. The human body cannot produce omega-3 fatty acids thus external sources are needed to compensate for this. An overall healthy diet plus exercise can also reduce the effect of brain injury and can lead to a faster and better recovery. Recent studies also give support to the hypothesis that health can be passed down through family generations.
The evidence also showed that what you eat can affect the third generation’s brain molecules and synapses. In some cases, controlled intermittent caloric restrictions can sometimes provide health benefits because excess calories in the body can minimize the flexibility of the synapses and increase the level of cell vulnerable to damage when free radicals are formed. The effects of diet plus the positive effects of exercise and ample rest can strengthen the synapses and provide cognitive benefits to an individual.
Omega 3 fatty acids are considered brain food. The body continually turns over DHA throughout the life cycle and it is very important to replenish it by eating foods rich in this essential fat. Eat wisely, exercise and sleep right. Your brain will thank you for it.