The Pescatarian diet has been around for thousands of years dating back to the earliest civilizations. Ancient cities in what is now Asia, the Mediterranean region, and the country of Greece show a long history of reliance on fish for protein. While the science of a diet rich in fish was not completely understood in ancient times, today we know that this type of diet can help slow cognitive impairments, and some studies have even shown that there are improvements in patient’s cognitive functions.
What the Evidence Shows
Fish has long been considered “brain food.” According to the National Institute of Health, a 2018 study shows that an increased intake of fatty fish are important sources of n-3 long chain polyunsaturated fatty acids (n-3 LC-PUFAs), which are important for brain development. The purpose of the trial was to investigate whether an increased intake of fatty fish compared to meat improves cognitive function in children 4–6 years old.
Further evidence was published in Today’s Geriatric Medicine that discusses how scientists have begun to link fish oils, “which are rich sources of two omega-3 fatty acids: eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) and docosahexaenoic acid (DHA), with brain health by observing that DHA is one of the two most plentiful fatty acids in the brain, and that it is particularly enriched in the retina of the eye, an extension of the brain.”
Even further evidence is catalogued in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition which examines increasing evidence suggesting that cognitive impairment and dementia in older subjects might be influenced by a diet including seafood. The conclusion of their studies showed that, “In the elderly, a diet high in fish and fish products is associated with better cognitive performance in a dose-dependent manner.”
All of the studies looked at one particular component of a diet involving fish – docosahexaenoic acid, or DHA – an omega-3 fatty acid found in fish. DHA is required to keep the brain functioning normally and efficiently. Brain and nervous system tissues are partly made up of fat, and research suggests they have a special preference for DHA in particular.
Knowing that the omega-3s in fish can help encourage cognitive growth in children and improved cognitive functioning in the elderly, it is recommended that fish be added as a part of a diet rich in protein and balanced with carbohydrates and limited fats. Most nutritionists advise eating at least two servings of fish a week. Even this small change can help improve brain functioning as well as a host of other bodily functions including vision, mood, heart health, and respiratory issues.
Check out the Channel Fish Brand fish options to add to your weekly menu and take advantage of this brain food that can help you throughout each developmental stage.