If you think consuming oily fish relates to good brain health, then you’re spot on. Oily fish such as salmon, tuna and mackerel contain good fats called omega 3 fatty acids. Often known simply as omega 3, this important nutrient is crucial for good brain health, especially as we get older.
Omega 3 has an antioxidant effect on the body. This means that it helps to neutralise or mop up free radicals. Free radicals are unstable molecules produced by the body in response to eating a poor diet, smoking and breathing in environmental toxins, as well as being a natural by-product of normal biological functions such as breathing and digestion.
In their quest to stabilise themselves, free radicals cause damage to our cells, that can lead to a build-up of inflammation. Chronic inflammation is linked to chronic inflammatory diseases such as rheumatoid arthritis, type 2 diabetes, heart disease, certain cancers and some forms of dementia such as Alzheimer’s’ disease.
And it’s for this reason that omega 3 fatty acids are so important for a healthy brain.
Omega 3 and brain health
Our brain function naturally begins to decline as we get older, but chronic inflammation can speed up this process, leading to age-related brain decline earlier than we may have experienced, and possibly dementia.
Researchers have discovered that low levels of omega 3 is related to the onset of dementia and therefore eating a diet rich in omega 3 (oily fish, walnuts and flaxseeds) or topping up our levels with omega 3 supplements is essential.
What’s more, further research has found that omega 3 supplements can help manage the symptoms of other brain related conditions such as mood swings, depression, bipolar disorder and some types of violent behaviour.
In terms of exercise, the more mentally healthy we are, the more likely we are to want to exercise, which in turn helps to boost mental health and so completing the virtuous cycle.
Omega 3 and heart health
Another virtuous aspect of omega 3 supplements, is their benefit to our cardiovascular system. We know that exercise helps to promote a healthy weight, and in turn, a healthy heart.
But omega 3 fatty acids also benefit those keen on keeping fit by protecting the heart. They help to regulate blood pressure and cholesterol levels, prevent plaque build-up in the arteries and blood clots and reduce inflammation.
A healthy heart and good circulation benefit our cardiovascular output and could help us reach our exercise goals by allowing us to push that bit further.
Omega 3 and bone health
Since omega 3 fatty acids reduce inflammation, they also help to manage the pain and discomfort caused by rheumatoid arthritis, a condition caused by chronic inflammation that hinders sufferer’s ability to exercise and move about freely.
Not only that, but omega 3 supplements also help to promote good bone strength by helping to increase the levels of calcium in the bones. Our bones rely on the mineral calcium for strength – and the stronger our bones, the stronger our skeleton. This means that we’re less likely to suffer trips and falls since our posture and stability are good, and we have less risk of bone fractures and breaks if we do fall.
A strong skeleton also means strong ligaments and tendons and in turn, strong muscles – all the better for exercising with!
By maintaining a healthy diet – and complementing it with a high strength omega 3 fish oil supplement – you can enhance exercise performance and support your overall health and wellbeing. Whether you’re a professional athlete or a casual gym-goer, omega 3 is one supplement not to ignore.