The role of physical activity and diet in the “successful aging” is indisputable. It would also appear that Omega 3 are among the essential nutrients that help keep us healthy as long as possible.
Recent studies about Omega 3 suggest as their interest in the protection of telomeres, true witnesses of cellular aging, and preventing the decline of intellectual faculties.
Regular consumption of omega 3 is useful for cardiovascular prevention: thanks to their anti-inflammatory action, they delay the physiological changes of the arteries, which is the bed of atherosclerosis and vascular accidents. But the omega 3 could also slow down the aging of all tissues, especially the brain!
Slow cellular aging by protecting telomeres?
Better aging Omega 3 Telomeres are small fragments of DNA that cap the ends of chromosomes to protect. Much has been talked about in 2009, when three American researchers (Elizabeth Blackburn, Carol Greider and Jack W. Szostak) received the Nobel Prize in Medicine for their work on telomeres and telomerase. Professor Szostak explains that telomeres have a role in aging and senescence: they shorten with cell division and as they shrink, some cells may not be repeated.
The three 2009 Nobel demonstrated the existence of telomerase, an enzyme that can regenerate telomeres and so slow alteration and cellular aging.
However, this key enzyme is not evenly distributed in the tissues, so any factor capable of protecting telomere is welcome in preventing aging. Some studies found a link between telomere length and higher vitamin supplementation, particularly antioxidant. Not surprising since the telomeres are made of DNA, and are therefore sensitive to oxidative stress. A new study suggests that both the value of omega 3.
More than 600 coronary patients (suffering from coronary artery disease) were followed for 5 years. At the end of these five years, those who had higher status in Omega 3 EPA (eicosapentaenoic acid) and DHA (docosahexaenoic acid) from marine origin, had the slowest rate of telomere shortening, measured at White blood cells. If we can extrapolate these results, one can nevertheless make the assumption that the well-known anti-inflammatory effect of omega 3 may stabilize the telomeres 1.
A makeover for neurons?
Many epidemiological (observational) have looked for links between diet and lifestyle and generally pathological brain aging. The results are not always consistent. Nevertheless, regarding fat intake, it seems that a high intake of saturated or trans fats (fats, whose structure has been modified by various industrial processes) increases the risk of dementia of the Alzheimer type, then a diet rich in unsaturated fats protect elderly cognitive decline (and learning) 2.
A dozen studies have observed a significant relationship between fish consumption (best source of EPA and DHA) at least 1 time per week, and decreased risk of dementia 2.
For example, the study “3 cities” conducted in France for 4 years over 8085 people aged at least 65 years, shows that a weekly portion of fish reduces the risk of Alzheimer’s by 35% and all form of dementia by 40%. Moreover, in patients with Alzheimer’s disease, omega 3 in the status (major constituents of neurons) is generally low 2.3.
Studies in the nuanced conclusions
Challenged by these promising data, the researchers conducted several intervention studies, with varying results.
In people with a mild form of Alzheimer’s disease, supplementation with EPA and DHA for 6 months slowed the progression of the disease only for those with cognitive disorders were the least marked the beginning of the study 4.
In healthy people 55 and older, a DHA as fish oil for 6 months, compared with placebo, improved learning and memory capacity, measured by different tests 5.
In two other trials, we compared two groups of people aged over 65 or 70 years, one receiving EPA and DHA, the other a placebo. After 6 months or 2 years, the researchers did not observe any difference in the evolution of intellectual faculties, regardless of the group 6.7.
Disappointing these studies? Their duration is probably too limited to conclude: changes in neurons implicated in Alzheimer’s disease several years before the declaration of disorders. Moreover, the preventive effect of omega-3 may depend on the genetic background. Finally, probably the whole diet that is involved. An unbalanced ratio in favor of omega 6 (other unsaturated fats) however seems cancel the benefits of omega 3. And fruits and vegetables are rich in antioxidants and vitamin B9, also appear to have a role to play.
While waiting to learn more, take as soon as possible to healthy eating: fish varied 2 times per week and consumption of ingredients rich in Omega 3 daily, eg rapeseed oil or nuts.