Fish Oil For Better Brains

In This Week’s Issue:

Fish Oil For Better Brains
We know that the omega-3 fatty acids found in fish oil are good for the brain, and now a study from the University of Illinois has shown that they can benefit seniors at risk of Alzheimer’s disease. The investigation tested the effect of omega-3 fatty acids on cognitive flexibility – the ability to efficiently switch between mental tasks – and examined the size of the anterior cingulate cortex, a brain region known to contribute to cognitive flexibility. The researchers reported that their study results suggest (but don’t necessarily prove) that omega-3s boosted cognitive flexibility by supporting the size and function of the anterior cingulate cortex of the participants. They noted that cognitive flexibility predicts daily functioning better than memory does. The study recruited 40 cognitively healthy adults between the ages of 65 and 75, all of whom carry the APOE e4 gene variant, which is linked to the risk of developing late-onset Alzheimer’s disease. The researchers tested the participants’ cognitive flexibility, measured their levels of the two omega 3 fatty acids, EPA and DHA, and examined MRI images of their brains to demonstrate that higher volume in the anterior cingulate cortex was the connection between omega-3 fatty acids and cognitive flexibility.

My take? This study adds to our knowledge of how regular consumption of omega-3 fatty acids may help protect mental health and lower the risk of Alzheimer’s disease. One of the omega-3s, DHA, is a constituent of membranes of nerve cells in the brain. To get sufficient omega-3s, I recommend eating oily fleshed, wild caught, cold water fish 2-3 times per week. If you use fish oil capsules, choose a product that provides 700 to 1,000 mg of EPA and 200 to 500 mg of DHA daily in the smallest number of pills. When choosing a supplement, look for products derived from molecularly distilled fish oils – these are manufactured to be low in contaminants. Also choose a brand that has been independently tested and guaranteed to be free of heavy metals such as mercury, lead and other environmental toxins including polychlorinated biphenyls, also known as PCBs.

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How To Gain Bad Belly Fat
A new study suggests that skipping meals can add to belly fat – the kind that can set you up for diabetes and heart disease – at least in mice. Researchers at Ohio State found that mice fed a single big meal per day ended up with insulin resistance, a sign of prediabetes. To begin, the investigators put a group of mice on a one-meal-a-day diet containing only half the calories available to other mice in the study (that were given unlimited access to food). Predictably, the mice on the low-cal diet lost weight. Then, calories were added to their single meal, giving them the same amount available to the animals that were free to eat anytime. The researchers reported that with only a single meal available, the mice gorged on food for four hours and then fasted for 20.  The belly fat the one-meal-a-day animals put on was determined to weigh more than the belly fat of the mice that could eat at will. The study’s senior author said the new findings support the notion that small meals throughout the day may be helpful for weight loss, but also suggest that skipping meals to save calories sets you up for larger fluctuations in insulin and glucose, which can promote unhealthy belly fat.

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Breast Cancer And Family History: Good News
Women with a family history of breast cancer fare no worse than other women if they develop the disease. This finding, from an investigation at the UK’s University of Southampton, suggests that the outlook for breast cancer recurrence in women with a family history of the disease is not significantly different from recurrence rates among women with no family history. The researchers analyzed data from 2,850 women under the age of 41, who were diagnosed with breast cancer and treated in the UK. They looked at each patient’s personal characteristics, tumor characteristics, treatment and family history of breast and ovarian cancer over a 15-year period. The researchers noted that about one-quarter of breast cancer cases in developed countries are believed related to hereditary factors (five to 10 percent of breast cancer cases are due to harmful mutations in the normally protective BRCA1 and BRCA2 genes). Having a first-degree relative – a mother, sister or daughter – with breast cancer constitutes a positive family history and doubles a woman’s risk of developing the disease, but according to the new report, it may not increase her risk of recurrence.

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Recipe: Citrus Salad Dressing
This tart, sweet salad dressing is wonderful on dark, leafy salad greens like romaine or leaf lettuce tossed with orange segments, black olives and red onion slivers.

Try this recipe today: Citrus Salad Dressing

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