The Importance of High-DHA Diets

By: Jenna Savage

In past blog articles, we touched upon habits that you might want to avoid if you want to keep your brain sharp and fit for learning. For instance, diets high in fructose can lead to decreased learning and poor memory, as we reported in May. We also addressed how diets high in fat may cause anxiety and depression. Then in June, we reported on a study that linked sleep deprivation with poor eating habits. In short, we’ve learned that there are plenty of things we should stay away from if we want our brains to operate at their best.

But what can we can we do to help improve our brains?

Of course, there’s the obvious: get good sleep, stop eating poorly, stay fit, and do brain exercises. All of those steps will keep a brain from getting sluggish. But those aren’t the only ways to help boost brain power. The University of Alberta’s Faculty of Medicine & Dentistry researchers, in an article released through the Faculty of Medicine & Dentistry news website, recommend eating fish or taking omega-3 fatty acid (DHA) supplements to improve brain function.

That advice isn’t new. In fact, the researchers who linked sugar to poor learning and retention showed that a diet rich in omega-3 fatty acids can help protect the brain against the effects of fructose on learning and memory. What the University of Alberta researches have done, however, is answer the question of why DHA is so effective.

It turns out that high DHA levels in the brain improve the communication of memory cells within the hippocampus. A diet high in DHA can increase hippocampus DHA-levels up to 30%, a big difference from diets that lack DHA.

In addition, extra DHA in the brain does not go to waste. Rather, extra DHA is deposited within the brain. These stores of DHA may help prevent brain function from decreasing as people age by making sure that DHA levels do not decline over time.

And that’s not the only benefit of high-DHA diets. University of Alberta researchers have also linked diets high in DHA with the prevention of vision loss. DHA keeps toxic molecules from building up in the back of the eye, thereby keep vision strong even as patients age.

So if you’re looking to improve brain function both now and for the future, consider adding omega-3 to your diet. Of course, you should still cut down on the sugar, lay off the fatty foods, and get a good night’s sleep – those are all important. But adding DHA to your diet will keep your brain primed for learning and remembering, even as time takes a toll.