Omega-3s Heal the Brain (Especially If You Take the Right Kind)

| Nov 20, 2017

We’ve written in past articles about how omega-3 fatty acids are essential for radiant health. Too many Americans consume too many omega-6s and not enough omega-3s, and the consequences can be disastrous. Researchers have found that without an omega-3 fatty acid called docosahexaenoic acid (DHA), your body has a much more difficult time warding off heart disease, cancer, immune dysfunction, and a host of other chronic conditions.

On the bright side, the simple act of optimizing your levels of DHA can work wonders for your health. In addition to protecting you against the conditions mentioned above, it can also balance blood sugar, alleviate joint pain by reducing inflammation, balance cholesterol levels, and more. One study even demonstrated that a DHA metabolite called epoxy docosapentaenoic acid (EDP) can halt the growth of cancerous tumors.[1]

Another prominent characteristic of DHA is its powerful ability to support brain health. Researchers first began to realize its brain-supporting potential when they found that DHA deficiency impairs recovery from traumatic brain injuries.[2]

When they dug deeper, researchers found that conversely, supplementing with DHA directly after a brain injury (such as a concussion) can aid recovery dramatically.[3]

Your Brain loves DHA, and optimizing DHA levels is a wise choice for everyone

With each new study that’s conducted, it becomes increasingly clear that the brain loves DHA, and that optimizing DHA levels is a wise choice for everyone (regardless of whether you’ve recently suffered a concussion or similar injury).

DHA Supports Optimal Brain Health

Let’s take a look at just a few of the ways in which DHA supports optimal brain health. You’ll probably agree that even one of these benefits would be enough to warrant making friends with this essential fatty acid. The evidence is overwhelming—optimizing our omega-3 levels just might be the simplest and most powerful action we can take toward protecting and enhancing our cognitive health.

Reduces neurological inflammation. As is the case with most degenerative diseases, cognitive decline is closely linked with inflammation. Studies have shown that optimal DHA levels (and concordantly, a diet with a balanced omega 6 to omega 3 ratio) will reduce inflammation in the brain.[4] Researchers have demonstrated that reducing inflammation and balancing omega ratios protects the brain from the factors that lead to cognitive decline, and can even help alleviate depression and anxiety.[5]

Improves memory and cognitive function. When the brain is protected against chronic inflammation (and fueled with healthy fats like DHA), it’s free to function at its full potential. A 2012 study published in the Journal of Alzheimer’s Disease found that DHA supplementation did indeed improve memory and overall cognitive function, and also minimized neuronal loss over time.[6]

Reduces the incidence of Alzheimer’s disease. Taking care of your brain with DHA won’t just improve your present mental health—studies suggest that it will also help protect you from developing Alzheimer’s disease later in life (and increase the quality of life for those already suffering from Alzheimer’s).[7]

The best omega-3 protocol

Dialing in the right protocol for optimizing your omega-3 levels can seem tricky, but it doesn’t have to be. Let’s break it down into two basic categories: food and supplements.

Food sources of DHA. As we’ve said countless times in past articles, radiant health begins with proper diet—no amount of supplements can make up for a poor diet. Supplements should do just what the name implies (i.e. they should “supplement” an already healthful diet to ensure above-average levels of all the right nutrients). Besides, you’ll only be battling yourself if you supplement with omega-3s and then eat a diet full of inflammatory omega-6s.

With that in mind, begin your DHA regimen by eating plenty of organic fruits, vegetables, nuts (especially walnuts, which are high in omega-3s), and other DHA-rich foods like wild salmon. Minimize your consumption of unhealthy fats, sugars, and processed foods, which are higher in omega-6s and lead to chronic inflammation (as well as many other health problems). Common sense, right?

DHA supplementation will let you get right to the heart of the matter—there’s no faster way to optimize DHA levels and enjoy the many benefits mentioned above. Remember, though: if you’re still eating too many omega-6-rich junk foods, you’re sabotaging your own progress.

You’ve probably heard that fish oil is the go-to source for omega-3 supplementation. There’s a few reasons why this is the case: DHA occurs abundantly in fish, the extraction process is simpler and less expensive than with other DHA animal sources, and most experts insist that there are no reliable plant sources of DHA (only EPA, a less “usable” form of omega-3 fatty acid).

The conventional wisdom around fish oil is being called into question, though. In another article, we discussed the many downsides of fish oil: contamination with heavy metals and industrial chemicals, the problem with rancidity, and of course, the inhumane and unsustainable nature of the fishing industry.

DHA from algae is a much better choice (in many cases, this is where fish get their DHA precursors). A 2014 scientific review banished the notion that there are no vegetarian sources of DHA by demonstrating that efficacy and bioavailability of DHA in algal oil.[8] Since then, it’s become clear that algae and algal oil offers all the same DHA-derived benefits of fish oil, without any of the drawbacks and risks.

We highly recommend trying Purathrive Curcumin Gold, which contains not only algae-derived DHA, but also ginger oil, curcumin, and full-spectrum turmeric extract…a truly winning combination for brain health. And the whole complex is liposomal for maximum bioavailability.

 


References

[1] http://www.ucdmc.ucdavis.edu/publish/news/newsroom/7671

[2] http://journals.plos.org/plosone/article?id=10.1371/journal.pone.0086472

[3] https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5035510/

[4] https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3191260/

[5] http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1111/ejn.12406/abstract

[6] https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/22002791

[7] https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/22002791

[8] https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/24261532

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