Omega-3's and Dementia


Dementia is associated with the development of amyloid plaques in the brain, similar in many ways to the plaques that clog artery walls and eventually lead to heart attacks. In fact, people who have a genetic susceptibility to heart attacks (a variation in the Apo E protein) also have a far higher risk of developing dementia or other memory problems. Thus, a strategy to prevent both heart problems and dementia seems to make sense. In fact, Hippocrates stated this some 2,500 years ago when he said, "whatever is good for the heart is probably good for the brain".

Since reducing inflammation is good for the heart ,then reducing inflammation should also be good for the mind. Perhaps, not surprisingly, people who are long-term users of anti-inflammatory drugs have a much lower incidence of dementia or memory loss than the general population.

Is there an appropriate strategy to reduce the likelihood of developing dementia? Population studies have shown that people more than 85years-old who eat fish have a 40 percent smaller risk of developing dementia or memory loss. Other research has shown that the brains of patients have 30 percent less DHA than the brains of healthy individuals. In data from the landmark Framingham Heart Study, those patients who had lower levels of long-chain Omega 3 fatty acids in their blood had a 67 percent greater likelihood of developing dementia. In fact, supplementation with DHA seems to improve the cognitive function of patients, according to one intervention study. More ominous is that those individuals who consume the most Omega 6 fatty acids have a 250% increase in the development of dementia. Remember it is the over-consumption of Omega 6 fatty acids (such as those found in common vegetable oils) that leads to an increase in arachidonic acid formation.

Therefore, we can theorize that making too many "bad" eicosanoids and not enough "good" ones increases your risk.This hypothesis is confirmed by recent studies that have looked at the AA/EPA ratio in patients and age-matched controls.

The fact that patients have double the AA/EPA ratio suggests that they have increased brain inflammation. In fact, Memory compromised conditions are now being considered primarily an inflammatory condition. Thus, consumption of high-dose fish oil and control of insulin levels are the effective preventive measures.

Other Dementia's

Dementia comes from the death of nerve cells and subsequent loss of brain function. The other major form of dementia comes from the continual occurrence of cerebrovascular events These occur when there is insufficient blood flow to the brain robbing it of the necessary oxygen and glucose to maintain itself. These events are not as disabling as massive cerebrovascular events , but their cumulative effect is the same; loss of brain function. The best way to stop them is though the preventing of the aggregation of platelets, which is caused by an over-production of "bad" eicosanoids. Drugs such as aspirin can reduce this platelet aggregation, but the best long-term drug is a nutritional dietary plan because of its ability to alter the levels of "good" and "bad" eicosanoids.

 

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