Eating Fish Once A Week To Slow Down Cognitive Decline
Consuming fish at least once a week was associated with a 10 percent per year slower rate of cognitive decline in elderly people, according to a new study posted online today from Archives of Neurology, one of the JAMA/Archives journals. The study will be published in the December print edition of the journal.
Martha Clare Morris, ScD, of Rush University Medical Center, and his colleagues analyzed six years of data from an ongoing study of Chicago residents, 65 years and older, first interviewed between 1993 and 1997 and every three years in two follow-up interviews. Interviews included four standardized cognitive tests and dietary questions on the frequency of consumption of 139 different foods, as well as questions of daily activities, exercise levels, alcohol consumption and medical history.
Morris found dietary intake of fish was inversely associated with cognitive decline over six years in this older, biracial community study. "The rate of decline was reduced by 10 percent to 13 percent per year among persons who consumed one or more fish meals per week compared with those with less than weekly consumption. The rate reduction is the equivalent of being three to four years younger in age," she said.
Morris and his colleagues examined whether overall dietary consumption patterns accounted for the association of cognitive decline and fish consumption, but the rate differences did not change after adjusting for consumption of fruit and vegetables.
"Cognitive decline is common among older people and is very much associated with advancing age. Our data offer no insight as to whether this cognitive decline is pathological or the result of a normal aging process. Nonetheless, data from the United States and other countries indicate that it is a widespread and increasing public health problem.".
Fish is a direct source of omega-3 fatty acids, which have been shown to be essential for neurocognitive development and normal brain functioning, according to background information in the article. Fish consumption has been associated with lower risk of dementia and stroke and recent studies have suggested that consumption of one omega-3 fatty acid in particular, docosahexaenoic acid (DHA), is important for memory performance in aged animals.
"This study suggests that eating one or more fish meals per week may protect against cognitive decline associated with older age," says Morris. "More precise studies of the different dietary constituents of fish should help to understand the nature of the association.".
This study was supported by grants from the National Institutes of Health, Bethesda, Md.