If you like to eat junk food, you may want to add fish oil to your diet. Researchers at the University of Liverpool gathered data from more than180 studies to reach that conclusion. The research team from the University's Institute on Ageing and Chronic Disease set out to determine whether omega-3 fatty acids such as those found in fish oil could help people lose weight.
Omega-3 fatty acids are essential fatty acids because they are necessary for good health. But our bodies are not able to make omega-3 fatty acids, which means we can only get them through the foods we eat.
Good sources of omega-3 fatty acids include cold water fish such as salmon, mackerel, halibut, sardines, tuna and herring. Omega-3s can also be found in some plant and nut oils and in fish oil supplements.
Scientists have learned that eating a diet rich in fat can disrupt the body's ability to generate new nerve cells -- a process called neurogenesis. They also knew that eating food rich in omega-3s can help overcome that problem.
After studying research from 185 reports, the University of Liverpool team concluded that omega-3s found in fish oil do not actually work in the brain to improve nerve regeneration. But these omega-3s may be able help control weight issues by stimulating areas of the brain that control feeding, learning and memory.
Scientists know that under normal conditions hormones are released into the blood after we eat. These hormones help protect nerve cells and encourage new nerve cells to grow. But when we eat large quantities of fat, special fat molecules known as triglycerides get in the way of the valuable hormones and prevent them from passing into the brain.
Research on animals shows that omega-3s such as those found in fish oil and fish oil supplements appear to suppress triglycerides, limit production of inflammatory molecules and help nerve cell regeneration progress at normal levels.
Dr. Lucy Pickavance from the University's Institute of Ageing and Chronic Disease said,
"Fish oils don't appear to have a direct impact on weight loss, but they may take the brakes off the detrimental effects of some of the processes triggered in the brain by high-fat diets. They seem to mimic the effects of calorie restrictive diets and including more oily fish or fish oil supplements in our diets could certainly be a positive step forward for those wanting to improve their general health."
According to the National Institutes of Health, a healthy eating plan that is low in fat and added sugars can help you maintain a healthy weight and lower your risk for heart disease and other medical conditions. They recommend a diet that focuses on fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and fat-free or low-fat dairy products. They also recommend eating lean meats, poultry, fish, beans, eggs and nuts and controlling the size of your portions.
Before adding any supplement to your diet, talk to your health care provider.
Science Daily. Fish oil may Stall Effects of Junk Food on Brain. Web. May 14, 2013.
University of Maryland Medical Center. Omega-3 fatty acids. Web. May 14, 2013.
National Insistute of Health: National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute. Healthy Eating Plan. Web. May 14, 2013.
Reviewed May 15, 2013
by Michele Blacksberg RN
Edited by Jody Smith