Fish Oil – Your Essential Drinking Companion
Heading out for a big night this weekend or drinking more throughout the week than you would like to admit?
Then listen up!
People often jest that they are a few brain cells lighter after a heavy drinking session, but the truth is, alcohol can cause serious damage to the brain.
If you regularly consume large amounts of alcohol, you could be setting yourself up for permanent cognitive impairment due to the neurotoxic effects of excess alcohol.
If that is not enough of a deterrent, excessive alcohol intake is linked to a range of damaging effects on various organs and bodily functions.
However, the reality is that drinking alcohol is a socially acceptable activity and is often expected by friends, family and peers at social events.
So how can you best protect your health and your brain when you do have some drinks?
Safeguarding Your Brain
Researchers have recently described fish oil supplementation as a powerful therapy to protect brain tissue from heavy alcohol consumption.
The effects of fish oil were investigated in a trial using rat brain cells that were exposed to alcohol levels approximately 4 times the legal driving limit.
Trial outcomes showed that the cell cultures that were exposed to omega-3 docosahexanenoic acid (DHA) from fish oil showed approximately 90% less neuroinflammation and brain cell death when exposed to alcohol compared with the cells that were not exposed to the DHA.
It was also found that the toxic effects on the brain caused by alcohol were due in part to it triggering an increased production of arachidonic acid, a pro-inflammatory omega 6 fat.
Since neuronal degeneration and inflammation underlie cognitive decline, particularly dementia, researchers believe that fish oil has the potential to help safe-guard brain tissue in alcohol abusers.
Interestingly, it has been shown in previous research data that moderate alcohol intake (maximum of 2 drinks for males, 1 drink for women per day) may reduce the risk of dementia. It appears that this amount of alcohol may make brain cells more 'fit' by improving the ability of brain cells to cope with stress.
However, too much alcohol causes too much stress and overwhelms cellular defence and protection mechanisms.
Is Your Brain Fat Enough?
Sadly, it seems that the huge push towards low-fat products by advertising companies and mainstream medical practitioners has left many of us depleted in omega 3 fats that are so crucial to our wellbeing.
Apart from having potent anti-inflammatory properties, omega 3 DHA is a major component of brain cell membranes, facilitating optimal brain cell communication and thereby playing an important role in cognitive development and learning.
DHA in conjunction with omega 3 EPA fats have also been reported to be beneficial for reducing the risk of depression in susceptible individuals and delaying the onset of the neurological degeneration of ageing.
The best dietary sources of these essential fats include cold water fish (Atlantic salmon, sardines, rainbow trout), freshly ground flaxseeds and chia seeds, walnuts and dark green leafy veggies.
Most people will not obtain enough of these fats from diet alone, particularly if they have increased requirements for omega 3s, therefore supplementation with a high purity, concentrated fish oil liquid or capsules is also recommended.
Vegetarian and vegan diets are also often lacking in DHA, so supplementation with an algal DHA is useful for maintaining a healthy essential fatty acid intake.
If you want to find out more about your essential fatty acid levels, testing is easy and can be completed through Emed.
While this research highlights some of the ways fish oil can benefit brain health, it is not designed to encourage heavy drinking alongside fish oil supplementation.
In fact, heavy drinking is not recommended at all as it can be seriously harmful to physical and mental wellbeing.
However, fish oils are a valuable addition to any holistic health plan with the aim of supporting brain tissue integrity, improving mental health and reducing alcohol intake to a healthy level or avoiding it altogether.
For further information on the effects of heavy drinking and effective tips for beating alcohol addiction, read on here.