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The Purported Benefits of Eating Fish

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In the landmark Global Burden of Disease research, researchers compiled the top 20 causes of demise and disability. Number one on the record was high blood pressure, two and three was smoke, and the fourth leading trigger of loss of life and health was not eating enough fruit. Lack of exercise was quantity 10, adopted by too much sodium, not sufficient nuts and seeds, not sufficient entire grains, and then not enough vegetables. Number 18 on the highest 20 listing was not getting enough long-chain omega-3 fatty acids like DHA and EPA found in seafood, because of their purported protective impact towards heart disease. As I talk about in my video Is Fish “Brain Food” for Older Adults?, even years in the past when the research was revealed, researchers have been already questioning the advantages of these fish fat, as increasingly more randomized controlled trials put them to the check they usually failed, culminating within the meta-analysis I profiled in my video Is Fish Oil Just Snake Oil? that appeared to put the difficulty to relaxation.

Consumption of fish and fish oil wasn’t solely hyped for cardiovascular safety, though. Omega-3s have also been touted to deal with depression. However, after making an allowance for all the unfavorable results that went unpublished, there seems to be no benefit for main depression or for stopping suicide, as I explored in my video Fish Consumption and Suicide.

What about omega-3s for the prevention of cognitive decline or dementia? The out there randomized controlled trials show no benefit for cognitive perform with omega-3 supplementation in research lasting from 6 to 40 months among healthy older adults.

It might typically even make issues worse. “Higher current fish consumption predicted worse performance on several cognitive speed constructs. Greater fish consumption in childhood predicted slower perceptual speed and simple/choice reaction time.” This may be resulting from neurotoxic contaminants, similar to mercury, in seafood. We’ve recognized that the creating brain is especially delicate to the damaging results of mercury, but perhaps the aging brain is as properly.

This would explain outcomes which have shown larger omega-3 ranges to be associated with excessive ranges of cognitive impairment and dementia. More EPA (eicosapentanoic acid) was found in the cognitively impaired, and more DHA (docosahexanoic acid) was found within the demented, presumably because of pollutants like mercury and polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs) in seafood which were associated to cognitive impairment and Alzheimer’s illness.

The similar cognitive “functions disrupted in adults, namely attention, fine-motor function and verbal memory, are similar to some of those previously reported in children with prenatal exposures,” that is, exposed in the womb. And, the adults exposed to mercury by means of fish consumption didn’t have solely delicate EEG mind wave modifications, however “observable deficits in neurobehavioral performance measures,” similar to poorer efficiency on exams of positive motor velocity and dexterity, in addition to concentration, for instance. “Some aspects of verbal learning and memory were also disrupted by mercury exposure,” and the higher the mercury ranges, the more severe they did.

That research, nevertheless, was carried out downstream of a gold mining operation, which makes use of a course of that uses tons of mercury. Other such studies have been accomplished on individuals eating fish subsequent to chemical crops or toxic spills, or eating whale meat. What a few more mainstream inhabitants? An “elite group of well-educated participants”—most have been company executives like CEOs and CFOs––all dwelling in Florida and wealthy enough to afford so much seafood that a minimum of 43 % exceeded the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s safety limit for mercury have been studied. Researchers found that excessive seafood consumption, which they outlined as greater than three to 4 servings per 30 days of large-mouth fish like tuna, snapper, and bass, elevates mercury levels and causes cognitive dysfunction, resulting in a few 5 % drop in cognitive performance. This might not appear to be a lot, nevertheless it’s “a decrement that no one, let alone a health-conscious and achievement-oriented person, is likely to welcome.”

“It is worth noting the irony in the situation; that is, the fact that corporate executives who chose to overconsume seafood for health reasons sustained a drop in their executive functions. Yet, if a 4.8% drop in executive function due to excessive seafood intake occurs in highly functioning, healthy adults with ample cognitive reserve, the major concern for further study is whether similar [mercury] level elevations in individuals already suffering from cognitive decline might result in substantially greater declines,” notably with cognitive decline, dementia, and seafood consumption on the rise.


Fruit deficiency is the number-one dietary danger issue? For extra, see Inhibiting Platelet Aggregation with Berries.

But what about th Inuit? See Omega-3s and the Eskimo Fish Tale.

For extra on the shift of the proof on fish and heart illness, see my Is Fish Oil Just Snake Oil? video.

The biggest danger of mercury publicity may be for youngsters, as I talk about in Mercury vs. Omega-3s for Brain Development and How Long to Detox from Fish Before Pregnancy?.

Other videos on the impact of fish contaminants and health amongst adults embrace Fish and Diabetes and Fish Consumption and Suicide.

Mercury isn’t the only neurotoxic contaminant of seafood, though. See Diet and Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (ALS) and ALS (Lou Gehrig’s Disease): Fishing for Answers.

In health,
Michael Greger, M.D.

PS: If you haven’t yet, you possibly can subscribe to my free movies here and watch my reside, year-in-review shows:




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