Fish eaters may be lowering their risk of Alzheimer’s disease

Baked or broiled fish
linked to lower risk of Alzheimer's
For the first time, researchers have found a direct relationship between eating baked or broiled fish and lower risk of Alzheimer’s disease.

Researchers from the University Of Pittsburgh Medical Center and the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine studied 260 people with no memory problems, finding that eating fish at least once a week seems to preserve gray matter in the brain.

Participants were chosen from the Cardiovascular Health Study.

The investigators used the National Cancer Institute Food Frequency Questionnaire to determine how often the study participants ate fish: 63 patients consumed fish on a weekly basis, and most ate fish one to four times per week.

Advanced 3D MRI, using Voxel-based morphometry was used to measure the volume of gray matter in the brain at baseline and then again 10 years later.

The research team compared gray matter volume among people who ate fish, matching the finding with eating fish. They also adjusted the findings for age, gender, BMI, ethnicity, education and physical activity.

When gray matter decreases, it means brain cells involved in sensory perception, muscle control, vision, hearing, memory, emotions and speech are shrinking.

Cyrus Raji, M.D., Ph.D. from the University of Pittsburgh said "Consuming baked or broiled fish promotes stronger neurons in the brain's gray matter by making them larger and healthier. This simple lifestyle choice increases the brain's resistance to Alzheimer's disease and lowers risk for the disorder."

From the study result, the scientists found eating baked or broiled fish at least once a week keeps brain volume intact in the hippocampal, posterior cingulate and orbital frontal cortex – areas responsible for short and long - term memory, awareness, cognition and emotion and reward respectively.

Eating baked or broiled fish was also associated with heightened cognition.

"Working memory, which allows people to focus on tasks and commit information to short-term memory, is one of the most important cognitive domains," Dr. Raji said.

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…”

The new study supports previous findings that eating fish promotes brain health and might lower the chances of Alzheimer’s disease.

The study found eating fish at least once a week – baked or broiled – lowered the 5-year risk of mild memory problems and Alzheimer’s disease five-fold. The authors write, “While we controlled for education in this study, other lifestyle and socio-economic factors may underlie these relationships.

Image credit: Morguefile