If you visit the island of Okinawa, it’s a far cry from the war torn island it used to be only a few short decades ago. Long after World War II, the inhabitants have returned to a lifestyle that has lasted them thousands of years.
Now considered one of the top 5 longest living cultures, people from Okinawa have practiced fishing and cooking seafood for as long as inhabitants have occupied the island.
According to Dr. Josh Axe, it is their diet high in fish, which has led to success for most long-living cultures. While replicating these cultures and eating fish daily (or at least often) would be the ideal scenario, sometimes life and budgetary constraints can get in the way.
Quality of Life and Depression
For some people, the more important indicator of success isn’t the length of life, but the quality. Especially in older years, many Americans suffer from a poor quality of life where they are bed-ridden, losing their memory, and chronically in pain.
Even young people are suffering from a low quality of life with nearly 15 million suffering from depression alone. Since our last post on fish oil, new evidence was compiled looking at high fish diets and instances of depression.
The extensive report (called a meta analysis) from August of 2015 analyzed 26 different studies and approximately 150,000 participants. The quantity of data might seem overwhelming, but it is a great group to extract conclusions.
Namely, scientists found that those who ate a substantial amount of fish in their diet had a 17% reduction in their symptoms of depression. Men saw an average of 20% decrease in symptoms while women experienced 16%.
While the size of this study makes its impact even bigger, other information corroborates the evidence. In 2007, a study of 22,000 Norwegians found a 30% reduced chance of depression symptoms when taking a fish oil supplement of some kind.
The exact mechanism is not known, but scientists believe there is a strong correlation between high fish diets and a lack of depression symptoms.
Memory Formation and Learning
If improving mood and feeling better isn’t reason enough to eat more fish or supplement your diet, perhaps the memory formation and learning benefits will be.
One of the greatest challenges with the modern standard American diet (SAD) is the ratio of omega-3 fatty acids to omega-6 fatty acids. The omega-3 fatty acids DHA and EPA are particularly important for proper brain functioning, but without adequate fish, few people have a 1:1 ratio. Most people are anywhere between 15-20:1 (omega 6 to omega 3).
In order to consume enough omega-3 fatty acids (DHA / EPA), you only need 6 ounces of salmon per day. That equates to 883 mg of EPA and 1,111 mg of DHA (more than enough). At the average cost of $17.99 per pound for salmon, you’d be paying approximately $6.25/day in salmon.
While that isn’t financially prohibitory, many people prefer to take fish oil supplements for other reasons. These include fish taste, budget, and food diversity.
Whether you consume your DHA and EPA in fish oil or cooked fish, numerous studies show reduced inflammatory markers. This creates an opportunity for better memory formation, learning ability and general cognitive abilities.
Beyond balancing the omega-3 and 6 ratio, there are a host of downstream effects of consuming fish oil including enhanced memory formation. Studies directly foc
using on memory in healthy adults found that 6 months of 750 mg DHA and 930 mg EPA led to enhanced working memory. Another study over only 4 weeks showed doses (1840 mg EPA / 250 mg DHA) didn’t change mood, but could enhance memory and learning ability.
An ADHD Epidemic
For any parent, one of the biggest reasons to provide adequate fish oil is to help combat symptoms of ADHD. Often referred to as “attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder”, this modern western invention has led to millions of children taking dangerous and potentially hazardous medications.
According to government reports, nearly 11% of children aged 4 – 17 are diagnosed with ADHD, which usually means prescriptions for drugs like Adderall, Vyvanse, and Ritalin. Many of these drugs are amphetamine-based prescriptions that have negative side effects in the long and short-term. They are especially dangerous for children and yet, millions of Americans (and other nationalities) are taking the drugs.
Doses of fish oil as low as 300 mg can help reduce symptoms of ADHD. According to nine various studies on the subject, fish oil has a reliable effect on these symptoms and it is a far healthier alternative to the drugs mentioned above. While there are plenty of healthy alternatives to Adderall, it is encouraging to see that something as natural and beneficial as fish can also help.