Rich in Omega-3 Fatty Acid DHA Protects Brain Against Alzheimer’s Disease,
UCLA Study Shows
September 1, 2004
neuroscientists have shown for the first time that a diet high in the omega-3
fatty acid DHA helps protect the brain against the memory loss and cell damage
caused by Alzheimer's disease. The new research suggests that a DHA-rich diet
may lower one's risk of Alzheimer's disease and help slow progression of the
disorder in its later stages. The journal Neuron reported the findings on Sept.
is the first proof that our diets affect how our brain cells communicate with
each other under the duress of Alzheimer's disease," said Greg Cole, senior
author and a professor of neurology at the David Geffen School of Medicine at
UCLA. "We saw that a diet rich in DHA, or docosahexaenoic acid,
dramatically reduces the impact of the Alzheimer's gene.
more DHA is something the average person can easily control," added Cole,
associate director of the UCLA Alzheimer's Disease Research Center. "Anyone
can buy DHA in its purified form, fish-oil capsules, high-fat fish or DHA-supplemented
discovered that the mice lived on a nutritious diet of soy and fish — two
ingredients chock-full of omega-3 fatty acids," said Sally Frautschy,
co-author and an associate professor of neurology at the school.
earlier studies suggest that omega-3 fatty acids may prevent Alzheimer's
disease, we realized that the mice's diet could be countering the very thing we
were trying to accomplish — showing the progression of the Alzheimer's-related
brain damage," she said.
found high amounts of synaptic damage in the brains of the Alzheimer's-diseased
mice that ate the DHA-depleted diet," Frautschy said. "These changes
closely resembled those we see in the brains of people with Alzheimer's
the mice on the DHA-supplemented diet also carried the Alzheimer's genes, they
still performed much better in memory testing than the mice in the first group.
adjusting for all possible variables, DHA was the only factor remaining that
protected the mice against the synaptic damage and memory loss that should have
resulted from their Alzheimer's genes," Cole said. "We concluded that
the DHA-enriched diet was holding their genetic disease at bay."
human brain absorbs DHA rapidly, making a constant supply critical for proper
cognitive function, eye development and mental tasks. DHA helps keep the brain
membrane fluid, moves proteins and helps to convert signals from other parts of
the body into action.
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