Science Says Eating Fish Can Protect Your Brain from Air Pollution as You Age
Air pollution impacts many aspects of our lives, so it's common sense to do all we can to protect ourselves against it. Everything from air filters to air purifiers are known to make a difference. As it turns out, what you eat can also play a part in mitigating your body's susceptibility to this problem. According to CNN, a new study published in Neurology found that women who consume about one to two servings of fish each week can protect their brains from the effects of air pollution.
One of the study's authors, Dr. Ka Kahe, a professor of epidemiology and obstetrics and gynecology at Columbia University, noted that fish benefits the brain in a variety of ways: "Omega-3 fatty acids have been shown to fight inflammation and maintain brain structure in aging brains. They have also been found to reduce brain damage caused by neurotoxins like lead and mercury."
While conducting the study, the researchers followed white women over the age of 70 who lived in locations with high air pollution—and observed the average amount of fish they ate each week. In addition, they calculated the women's exposure to air pollution by taking a three-year average. They then scanned their brains to measure their memory, and found that women who had low amounts of omega-3 acids in their blood had the most brain shrinkage.
The study found that foods like wild salmon, mackerel, sardines, and tuna in baked or broiled form are the best ways to get your helping of omega-3s; the researchers recommend steering clear of fried fish, since it damages the fatty acids. The team also suggests checking in with your doctor before including more fish into your diet. "The general population still needs to follow the general recommendations of the government. But I can say a very small increase in omega-3s or fish intake can be beneficial for the populations in the study," the lead author Cheng Chen, a postdoctoral researcher at Columbia University's Irving Medical Center, added.