An international team of scientists has analyzed how a diet rich in omega-3 fatty acids may influence the development of Alzheimer’s disease. It found that the participants in the study who had the highest levels of the substance in their blood were much less likely to develop the condition. In some people, the development of the disease has been delayed for several years.
New analyzes showed that people with the highest levels of omega-3 DHA in their blood were less likely to suffer from Alzheimer’s disease than volunteers with the lowest levels of this substance. A proper diet can especially help people with a genetic predisposition to the disease.
The results of the analysis appeared on Thursday in the academic journal “Nutrients”.
The risk is 49 percent lower
Scientists from the American Fatty Acid Research Institute (FARI) and various centers in the USA and Spain have reported about the likely protective effect of omega-3 acids on the brain. These substances are of key importance, inter alia, for the nervous system.
In their project, the researchers analyzed data on 1,500 people aged 65 and over from the well-known research project Framingham Offspring Cohort. They compared the concentration of one of the main omega-3 acids (docosahexaenoic acid – DHA) with the risk of developing Alzheimer’s disease.
They noticed clear differences. In people with the highest concentration of DHA, the risk of disease was as much as 49 percent lower than in participants with the lowest concentration. In other words, this means an average of an additional 4.7 years without disease for people with high DHA levels.
A more detailed analysis showed one more relationship. The protective effect of the said acid was particularly noticeable in people with a mutation in the apolipoprotein (APOE) gene predisposing to the disease.
Lots of possibilities
Getting the right amount of omega-3 fatty acids is not difficult or expensive. These compounds are found in large amounts, for example, in marine fish and sea fish.
With the cost of caring for Alzheimer’s patients $ 355 billion in the US in 2021, excluding family and caregiver costs, any cost-effective strategy to delay disease development is critical to public health, the authors said.
Worldwide, 15 to 21 million people live with Alzheimer’s disease, and over 350,000 in Poland. Meanwhile, scientists estimate that delaying the development of Alzheimer’s disease by 5 years can lead to a life extension of up to 2.7 years.
This is not the first study to show the protective effect of omega-3 fatty acids against the disease.
Dr William S. Harris, dir. FARI, emphasizes that the results agree with those obtained in 2012 by another team of US researchers, showing cross-sectional correlations in the same group between DHA concentration in red blood cells and cognitive abilities and brain volume. Higher DHA concentration was accompanied by better results.
Interestingly, 15 years ago, scientists led by Ernst J. Schaefer obtained similar results in the group of parents of people on whom the present study focused.
They reported that those in the upper quartile of DHA had a 47 percent lower overall risk of developing dementia compared to those with the lowest. A similar result obtained in two generations with a similar genetic pool strongly confirms the relationship between DHA and dementia – emphasized the specialist.
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