(NaturalNews) According to the National Institute on Aging, as many as 5.1 million Americans may already have the progressive brain disease known as Alzheimer's, and those numbers are expected to increase as the population ages. What's more, countless people also suffer from mild cognitive impairment (MCI). Although a less severe form of memory loss, it's linked to a higher risk of developing Alzheimer's disease over time.
If you are concerned about your brain health and the ability to keep your memory intact as you age, you may have read up on what the mainstream medical establishment has to say about Alzheimer's disease. Unfortunately, it's virtually all bad and totally hopeless news. As the Alzheimer's Association notes, "current Alzheimer's treatments cannot stop Alzheimer's from progressing."
But that's not the whole story. Fortunately, some scientists are looking for non-drug ways to beat dementia. And more are finding that natural nutritional strategies can do what Big Pharma drugs can't -- improve brain health and potentially prevent Alzheimer's altogether.
Now there's yet another study showing how a simple dietary change may improve brain health and reduce the risk of MCI and Alzheimer's. The key, according to a study just presented at the annual meeting of the Radiological Society of North America (RSNA) currently underway in Chicago, is simply eating baked or broiled fish on a weekly basis.
"This is the first study to establish a direct relationship between fish consumption, brain structure and Alzheimer's risk," Cyrus Raji, M.D., Ph.D., from the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center and the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine, said in a statement to the media. "The results showed that people who consumed baked or broiled fish at least one time per week had better preservation of gray matter volume on MRI in brain areas at risk for Alzheimer's disease."
Eating fish literally stops the brain from shrinking
Dr. Raji and his research team studied 260 cognitively normal individuals who were selected from the Cardiovascular Health Study. The study controlled for age, gender, education, race, obesity, physical activity, and whether or not the research participants had apolipoprotein E4 (ApoE4), a gene that increases the risk of developing Alzheimer's. Their fish consumption was documented using the National Cancer Institute Food Frequency Questionnaire. Overall, 163 patients ate fish on a weekly basis and most of these ate fish one to four times a week.
Each volunteer in the study underwent a 3-D volumetric MRI of the brain. A mapping technique (called Voxel-based morphometry) measured the volume of the gray matter in their brain at the beginning of the study and again, 10 years later. This was important because gray matter volume is known to be crucial to brain health. If gray matter volume decreases, it literally means brain cells are shrinking.
When the data was analyzed, the researchers found strong evidence that gray matter volume was preserved in the people who ate fish regularly over time -- and that dramatically reduced their risk for developing Alzheimer's disease. Specifically, the findings showed that eating baked or broiled fish on a weekly basis reduced the risk of MCI or Alzheimer's over a five year period by almost five-fold. The results also showed that the people who ate baked or broiled fish, but not fried fish, had better thinking skills.
"Working memory, which allows people to focus on tasks and commit information to short-term memory, is one of the most important cognitive domains," Dr. Raji said in the press statement. "Working memory is destroyed by Alzheimer's disease. We found higher levels of working memory in people who ate baked or broiled fish on a weekly basis. Even when accounting for other factors, such as education, age, gender and physical activity."
"Consuming baked or broiled fish promotes stronger neurons in the brain's gray matter by making them larger and healthier," Dr. Raji explained. "This simple lifestyle choice increases the brain's resistance to Alzheimer's disease and lowers risk for the disorder."