Exercise and omega-3s: A winning team for brain function

Exercise and omega-3s: A winning team for brain function

Seniors have an increased chance of memory problems, but studies show that a combination of exercise and omega-3s may be key in staving off disease. Both factors have been shown to independently influence cognitive ability, but researchers have examined how the two can work together to boost brain function.

Omega-3s pick up slack
A healthy diet and regular exercise are both important aspects of overall health, so it seems reasonable that they work better together than separately. Researchers tested this theory by examining whether omega-3 intake modified the effects of physical activity in 344 adults.

The results, published in the journal Neuropsychologia, showed that higher levels of omega-3s can offset the negative effects of not getting enough exercise. This means that if you skip the gym more often than not, make sure to increase your omega-3 intake to keep your brain ticking. There were no noted benefits of increasing your levels of both fatty acids and exercise, so a regular routine is plenty.

Combating disease
Why are these polyunsaturated acids important to older adults? Researchers at the University of California Los Angeles reviewed 160 studies that documented effects food has on cognitive ability. The findings showed that a balanced diet – high in omega-3s and low in saturated fats – paired with regular exercise can help prevent brain disorders.

"Dietary deficiency of omega-3 fatty acids in humans has been associated with increased risk of several mental disorders, including attention-deficit disorder, dyslexia, dementia, depression, bipolar disorder and schizophrenia," said Fernando Gomez-Pinilla, Ph.D., a UCLA professor of neurosurgery and physiological science. "A deficiency of omega-3 fatty acids in rodents results in impaired learning and memory."

The findings, published in the journal Nature Reviews Neuroscience, show that pairing a healthy diet with exercise has positive effects on cognitive health. Gomez-Pinilla believes that diet changes have potential to combat the common diseases that come with age. He also concluded that healthy diet and exercise can help to decrease the consequences associated with brain injury. He said that there are some people who have naturally healthy genes, but most people need to focus on eating right, exercising regularly and getting enough sleep to optimize their health.

If you've been neglecting your diet and skipping your exercise, you're putting yourself at a higher risk for cognitive decline. Try to reverse these habits by setting a manageable activity goal and picking up a fish oil supplement like Omax3. A fatty acid dietary supplement can help to stave off disease while you get your body back in shape.