Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Can Eating Your Catch (Omega-3 fish oils) Ease Depression?

After posting the "Brain Teaser", I could not resist sharing a recent article I discovered about the benefits of Omega-3 fish oils (found naturally in your catch) and how it may help ward off the effects of depression.

The omega-3 fatty acid in some fish may be a "brain food". It may help ward off depression because it increases gray matter in three areas in the brain linked to mood, that tend to be less in people who have serious depression, a study suggests today.

The increase could help explain why past studies have found that the omega-3 acid DHA reduces symptoms of depression.

The richest sources of DHA are fatty fish and fish-oil capsules.

Researchers gave magnetic resonance imaging tests to 55 adults. Participants also reported everything they ate for 24 hours on two randomly selected days, says study leader Sarah Conklin, a neuroscientist at University of Pittsburgh Medical School. She'll report her findings at the American Psychosomatic Society meeting in Budapest.

The more DHA a person consumed, the more gray matter there was in three areas of the brain linked to mood: the amygdala, the hippocampus and the cingulate, Conklin says. Seriously depressed people tend to have less gray matter in these areas, she says.

"That doesn't mean omega-3 is a panacea for depression," she says. "Many other things influence risk, such as genetics, environment, drug use and alcohol."

“One of the main reasons for me that aids in fighting depression other than enjoying my days catch is the fact that I am outside surrounded by beautiful settings and doing what I enjoy doing….fly fishing.”

The research seems to support rapidly growing evidence that DHA improves mood and memory, says Penny Kris-Etherton, a registered dietician and nutrition professor at Pennsylvania State University: "There are effects on the brain from what we eat."

A follow-up to a previous study, the landmark Framingham study, found that people with high blood levels of DHA cut their risk of developing dementia, including Alzheimer's, by half.

There's also evidence that low DHA levels contribute to aggression, Kris-Etherton says.

In animal research, a strong link exists between levels of DHA in red blood cells and DHA in the brain, says UCLA neuroscientist Greg Cole.

In his lab research, animal and human brain cells bathed in DHA gain branches, which add to gray matter, or nerve cells, and improve brain function, he says.

"If the neurons control mood, the branching would improve mood. If they control mental function, branching …would improve memory."

While Omega-3’s (essential fish oils) alone may not cure depression, but coupled with a great low fat diet, proper exercise and getting outdoors and enjoying the magnificent natural surroundings while fishing will surely help your mood.

What do you do to fight depression?  Do you strap on your waders and go fishing? Maybe go for a long hike in the woods?  Maybe you prefer to go for a job or run?  Maybe talk with positive friends and family?  

Post your comments here!


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