According to current knowledge, Alzheimer’s cannot be cured. Preventive measures are all the more important to reduce the risk of illness. A study now shows that the intake of a special omega-3 fatty acid reduces the risk by 49 percent. An overview.
Alzheimer’s is one of the most feared diseases of old age. In Germany, 1.7 million people are now affected by chronic forgetting, worldwide there are more than 55 million – and the trend is rising. According to a study by the World Health Organization (WHO), the number will increase by around 40 percent by 2030 – reports the ” Tagesschau “. In Germany, according to the Federal Ministry of Health, the number is currently increasing by 40,000 a year.
Alzheimer’s disease cannot yet be cured, but the actual risk of developing the disease can be demonstrably reduced at an early age. This is what the Alzheimer Research Initiative association writes on its website. A recent study by the Fatty Acid Research Institute in South Dakota confirms the prevention theory and issues a nutritional recommendation: As the researchers write, a certain omega-3 fatty acid – docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) – can reduce the risk of developing Alzheimer’s disease by 49 reduce percent.
According to the researchers, blood was drawn from 1,490 people aged 65 or older without dementia and tested for their DHA levels. The aim was to establish a connection to Alzheimer’s disease or to people who carry the ApoE4 gene mutation. Possession of the said gene has been shown to double the risk of developing dementia.
The respective DHA values were then compared with the values of people who later developed Alzheimer’s and with the DHA values of people who did not develop the disease. The researchers found that people with high levels of omega-3 DHA had a 49 percent lower risk of developing Alzheimer’s. According to the study, a constantly high DHA level should also increase the life span without Alzheimer’s by 4.7 years.
The findings of the study are not new. Rather, they support the results of a previous study from 2006. In this study, the parents of the current subjects were examined. Back then, measurements of brain volume and cognitive performance showed that participants with high DHA levels had a 47 percent lower risk of developing dementia compared to participants with lower DHA levels.
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Omega-3 fatty acids are not only important for Alzheimer’s prevention, but also have a positive effect on human metabolism. They are building blocks of cell membranes and keep the cell envelopes supple. They are also involved in the production of important tissue hormones. In addition, omega-3 fatty acids are said to strengthen the immune system and have an anti-inflammatory effect.
It is best to increase your DHA intake in combination with the omega-3 fatty acid alpha-linolenic acid (ALA). In small amounts, the body can produce DHA itself. There are basically three types of omega-3 fatty acids:
Alpha Linolenic Acid (ALA)
It is mainly found in plant foods and cannot be produced by the body itself. Accordingly, it must be constantly supplied through food. The following foods are rich in ALA:
Eicosapentaenoic Acid (EPA) and Docosahexaenoic Acid (DHA)
Like DHA, EPA is mainly found in oily fish and algae. Both fatty acids are metabolically active, which means that the body can produce them itself in small amounts from ALA. ALA intake is just as important as consuming foods that are inherently rich in EPA and DHA. These are:
Important: In order for omega-3 fatty acids to work in the body, the ratio to omega-6 must be right. Because omega-6 and omega-3 fatty acids are processed by the same enzyme. If this is “overwhelmed” with the intake of omega-6 fatty acids, the body cannot absorb any omega-3. Omega-6 fatty acids are found, for example, in sunflower or safflower oil or in processed foods.
Today’s food contains, on average, 10 to 20 times more omega-6 than omega-3 fatty acids, but the ratio of omega-6 to omega-3 should really be between 1:1 and 5:1, the reports NDR .
If you are a vegetarian or do not want to eat fish, supplementing with omega-3 can also make sense. In addition to fish oil, dietary supplements containing omega-3 are used for the production. However, it must be noted here that the manufacturers of dietary supplements only have to specify the total content of omega-3 fatty acids. How much APA, EPA or DHA is contained remains unclear.
This applies above all to over-the-counter products, as the consumer advice center writes. Products from the pharmacy usually contain 1000 mg omega-3 fatty acids with 460 mg EPA and 380 mg DHA. When taking dietary supplements, you should always speak to a doctor. Omega-3 can also have a negative effect if the dose is too high and lead to blood clotting disorders.
The Alzheimer Research Initiative e.V. lists other important preventive measures on its website that can reduce the risk of disease. These include:
Risk factors should also be considered, including: