Fish Oil and Antioxidants May Work to Combat Alzheimer’s
A small but intriguing study suggests that people with early signs of Alzheimer’s disease may benefit from nutritional interventions that include fish oil supplements and dietary antioxidants. A handful of patients with mild cognitive impairment (MCI)—which is a condition that often precedes full-blown Alzheimer’s disease—along with seven Alzheimer’s patients, were given a drink containing fish oil fatty acids and dietary antioxidants derived from foods such as berries.
Investigators examined subjects after they had had consumed the drinks for four to 17 months. The researchers discovered evidence that MCI patients were experiencing significantly improved clearance of amyloid-beta, a protein that accumulates in the brains of Alzheimer’s disease patients. There was also biochemical evidence that immune system cells called monocytes were busy gobbling up the aberrant protein in subject’s brains—although the increase was not statistically significant among patients already diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease.
The results suggest that dietary interventions undertaken early enough may help slow or even reverse the course of cognitive decline seen in MCI, and might prevent progression of the condition to more-serious Alzheimer’s disease. "We've known for a long time that omega-3 fatty acids and some antioxidants can be beneficial to people with a wide range of health problems, as well as protective for healthy people," said Gerald Weissmann, M.D., Editor-in-Chief of The FASEB Journal. "Now, we know that the effects of these supplements may extend to Alzheimer's disease as well. Although these supplements are considered to be generally safe and are very easy to obtain, full-scale clinical trials are necessary to verify the findings of this research and to identify who might benefit the most.”
In the meantime, I’ll continue to encourage my readers to get plenty of omega-3 fatty acids from fish or supplements, and continue eating a fresh/whole foods diet. Such a diet supplies lots of natural dietary antioxidants, from plants as diverse as berries and cherries to broccoli and parsley.
M. Fiala, R. C. Halder, B. Sagong, O. Ross, J. Sayre, V. Porter, D. E. Bredesen. -3 Supplementation increases amyloid- phagocytosis and resolvin D1 in patients with minor cognitive impairment. The FASEB Journal, 2015; DOI: 10.1096/fj.14-264218