Eating Fish Can Help Stave Off Dementia

by Sandy Todd Webster on Mar 22, 2016

Food Focus

Regularly consuming the catch of the day might be just the thing to keep your brain sharp, shows research published in the Journal of American Medical Association (2016; 315 [5], 489-97).

Eating at least one portion of fish per week helps to reduce a person's risk of developing Alzheimer's disease and dementia-related illnesses, concluded a team at Rush University Medical Center in Chicago. Begun in 1997, the study monitored elderly people living in Chicago and the surrounding areas. The researchers recorded participants' eating habits and other lifestyle factors. Upon death, the brains of 286 subjects were examined for dementia and Alzheimer's disease.

The researchers found fewer markers of dementia and Alzheimer's disease among elderly people who consumed fish at least once a week than among those who consumed it less frequently. Strikingly, this association was present only among carriers of APOE ε4, the gene that increases the risk of developing Alzheimer's disease and dementia. The scientists observed, however, that even for this population it is still premature to state that eating fish on a weekly basis has a positive influence, since the association has not been demonstrated consistently in other studies.

Another interesting finding centered on the heavy-metal content of fish. We know that eating more fish entails consuming higher concentrations of heavy metals such as mercury, with long-term overconsumption potentially causing damage to the kidneys, liver, brain and nervous system. Researchers found that the more fish research participants ate, the higher their mercury concentrations were. However, these higher concentrations did not correlate with more markers of dementia, so it was not the case that a greater intake of mercury had a negative impact on the brain. In general, the health benefits of consuming fish outweigh the possible negative effects. That said, varying the type of fish consumed is a good idea.

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About the Author

Sandy Todd Webster

Sandy Todd Webster IDEA Author/Presenter

Sandy Todd Webster is Editor in Chief of IDEA's publications, including the award-winning IDEA FITNESS JOURNAL and IDEA FOOD & NUTRITION TIPS, the industry's leading resources for fitness, wellness and nutrition professionals worldwide. Sandy joined IDEA in 2001 as executive editor of IDEA PERSONAL TRAINER and IDEA FITNESS MANAGER magazines and was promoted to lead the editorial team in 2003. More than 20 years in magazine publishing, marketing communications and creative services have shaped her straightforward approach to multi-channel communication. Early experience in Los Angeles as a sports writer/reporter, and then enriching years as a managing editor in allied health care publishing have pulled her across a spectrum of stimulating subject matter. Fitness, health and nutrition reside at the perfect center of this content continuum, she feels. A Chicago native, Sandy grew up fully engaged in various competitive sports. Her drive and dedication as an athlete translate to a disciplined work ethic and unwavering approach to challenge in her career. Shortly after graduating journalism school from Southern Illinois University-Carbondale, she was recruited to L.A. for her first post in magazine publishing. After two decades of working on magazines--and now in the throes of applying the unbelieveable multi-media content delivery options available in the magazine 2.0 world--she is still "completely in love" with the creative process it takes to deliver meaningful, inspirational content to end users. She is an accomplished home cook and gardner who would love to combine those skills and passions with her health and fitness background to continue educating readers about a well-balanced, healthy lifestyle.