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Using omega-3s to clean out your brain

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You’ve probably heard that omega-3s, like those found in fish oil, can improve your brain health. But you may not know quite how much they can do…

Their effect on your brain is nothing short of miraculous. They can help with minor brain issues, major brain diseases and everything in between. Here’s a quick rundown of the amazing feats omega-3s can perform for your brain…

Omega-3s can:

  • Increase your gray matter
  • Improve your mood
  • Enhance your reaction time and mental performance
  • Ward off depression, anxiety, bipolar disorder, schizophrenia and other mental illnesses
  • Help your brain recover from a concussion and other brain injuries
  • Help your brain recover from stroke-related brain damage
  • Reverse the damage to your brain caused by eating too much junk food

But the best news around has to do with one of the scariest brain diseases around — Alzheimer’s. For a while, research has shown that omega-3s are integral to helping you avoid this disease. And researchers are finally figuring out exactly why…

It turns out, omega-3s act as your brain’s garbage men. They come in and haul out your brain’s waste, including the amyloid-beta peptides that cause the brain plaques that lead to Alzheimer’s. By kicking this junk to the curb, omega-3s make sure it doesn’t linger around and make you sick. At least that’s what a group of Chinese researchers figured out in their latest study…

These researchers found that mice who have more naturally-occurring omega-3 fatty acids in their brains and wild mice who are fed omega-3-filled fish oil had a better ability to clear out waste from their brain. That’s because the omega-3 fatty acids improved the function of their glymphatic system — the waste-clearing pathway in the central nervous system. Once the glymphatic system was working more efficiently it started clearing out waste, including metabolites (wastes left behind from chemical processes that take place in the brain) like amyloid-beta peptides.

Basically, omega-3 fatty acids are a natural brain detoxifier. That explains why they have such a powerful impact on your brain health. So if you want to start using omega-3 fatty acids to detoxify your brain and prevent Alzheimer’s disease, here’s what you need to know:

  • To get optimal omega-3 levels through your diet, eat fatty fish at least two to three times per week. The best low-mercury options are wild salmon, arctic char, Atlantic mackerel, sardines, anchovies and rainbow trout.
  • If you’re not a fan of fish, you can also get your omega-3s from a supplement. Just make sure you take a supplement that gives you at least 700 to 1,000 mg of the fatty acid EPA and 200 to 500 mg of the fatty acid DHA per day. You’ll also want to look for a pure product that’s free of contaminants like mercury and well-packaged to protect it from air and light, which cause it to break down and become rancid.
  • If fish oil doesn’t sit well with you, consider krill oil. Krill is an excellent source of omega-3s and also contains a powerful antioxidant: Astaxanthin is a carotenoid that gives krill and other sea creatures their rich, pink color — and when it comes to protecting your body against disease-causing free radicals astaxanthin is 65 times more powerful than vitamin C, 54 times more powerful than beta-carotene and 14 times more powerful than vitamin E.
  • If you’re a vegetarian, you can turn to foods like flax seeds, chia seeds, walnuts and seaweed for your omega-3s. You can also try vegetarian omega-3 supplements, which often come from flaxseed oil or algae.

And I have more good news. If you follow these tips to give your brain the omega-3s it needs, you’ll also notice your health improving in other ways too. Because, the fact is, omega-3s are critical to the health of your whole body, not just your brain. Omega-3s can lower high blood pressure, lower cholesterol and decrease your risk of diseases like cancer, diabetes, lupus, psoriasis, asthma, heart disease and macular degeneration. What more could you ask for from a single nutrient?

Editor’s note: Don’t miss Dr. Cutler’s upcoming Black Friday book sale. You’ll find Nature’s Secrets for an Active Healthy Mind–At any age for just $9.95 (regularly $39.95!). Watch for your email with sale links. Not signed up? See the sign up box (and free book offer) on the home page!

  1. “Omega-3 fatty acids.” University of Maryland Medical Center. http://umm.edu. Retrieved October 31, 2016.
  2. Ren, et al. “Omega-3 polyunsaturated fatty acids promote amyloid- clearance from the brain through mediating the function of the glymphatic system.” The FASEB Journal, 2016.
  3. “13 Best Fish: High in Omega-3s – and Environment-Friendly.” U.S. News World Report. http://health.usnews.com. Retrieved October 31, 2016.
  4. “Fish Oil and Omega-3.” Dr. Weil. http://www.drweil.com. Retrieved October 31, 2016.
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