Here is one more reason why fish, seeds and nuts should be a part of your diet. New research conducted at Queen Mary, University of London, shows that omega-3 fatty acids have the potential to not only treat nerves that have been damaged as a result of an accident or impact, but also play a significant role in preventing that nerve damage from happening in the first place. (1)
Neural damage is often the cause of muscle paralysis, weakness, pain, reduced motor ability and loss of coordination to some extent. Those who do recover from injury of the nerves recover slowly and the percentage of such persons who recover completely is low.
In the same study, experiments conducted on rats showed that when nerve damage did occur, those rats which were given omega-3 had a speedier recovery than those who were not given omega 3 in the days that led up to the injury and recovery event.
Omega-3 fatty acid, also known as alpha linolenic acid, is an essential fatty acid, which means that it is not manufactured by the body but has to be taken in through food as a part of our diet. Usually seawater fish and plants, and nuts and seeds that have oil content in them, contain some percentage of omega-3 fatty acid.
Good examples of fish high in omega-3 fatty acid are shrimps, salmon, sardines, tuna and halibut. Nuts like walnuts, butternuts, peanuts, hazelnuts are also good sources, and seeds such as flaxseed and pumpkin seeds are rich in omega-3 fatty acid.
The study focused on the prevention, damage and treatment of peripheral nerves of rats. Peripheral nerves are those which transmit messages/signals between the central nervous system (brain and spine) and the rest of our bodies.
The scientists observed isolated nerve cells in rats and then stimulated a nerve by injury. This injury was achieved by stretching the nerve cells or depriving them of oxygen supply through blood circulation). It was seen that though both methods of simulating nerve damage killed neural cells in significant numbers, those which were enriched with omega-3 fatty acid had additional protection and usually the nerve cells were not killed.