Researchers at Loyola University Chicago (LUC) have found a surprising health benefit by studying alcohol abuse. In the process, they have stumbled upon a natural solution for preventing brain inflammation and cell death – unwanted processes that cause dementia and other neurological diseases including Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s. The solution? A fatty acid known as DHA.
Research has found that it is primarily inflammation that causes brain cell death, although there are other factors. Looking further into this issue, researchers at LUC along with cooperation from the National Institute of Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA) exposed cell cultures to alcohol that were four times the legal driving limit for four days straight.
As expected, the alcohol caused the type of damage you might expect in a chronic alcoholic, but there was one exception. Miraculously, researchers observed 90% less inflammation and death in brain cells exposed to docosahexaenoic acid (DHA).
One of the researchers on the project, Michael A. Collins, PhD. said:
“Fish oil has the potential of helping preserve brain integrity in chronic alcohol abusers. We don’t want people to think it is ok to take a few fish oil capsules and then continue to go on abusing alcohol.”
“The results with corresponding models support involvement of AQP4- and PLA2-associated neuroinflammatory pro-oxidative pathways in the neurodamage, with potential regulation by PARP-1 as well. Furthermore, DHA emerges as an effective inhibitor of these binge ethanol-dependent neuroinflammatory pathways as well as associated neurodegeneration in adult-age brain.”
The DHA found in fish oil and other foods was astounding at protecting the brain from cellular damage.
Even more promising is the fact that research suggested even moderate amounts of alcohol increase dementia risk over time, but DHA could still protect against it.
Great sources of DHA include hemp oil, wild-caught salmon, and grass-fed beef. Adding a mercury-free fish oil supplement to your diet could drastically increase the performance of the brain as you age as it is exposed to a few holiday cocktails, or the impending inflammation that accompanies most American diets.
Big Pharma sees the effectiveness of DHA – it is even trying to turn fish oil extracts into drugs, selling them for hundreds of dollars per bottle. Wouldn’t it be easier to just add more DHA from natural sources?
While you can moderate alcohol intake, you should also add DHA. It could save your life, and promote better brain health.
Christina Sarich is a humanitarian and freelance writer helping you to Wake up Your Sleepy Little Head, and See the Big Picture. Her blog is Yoga for the New World. Her latest book is Pharma Sutra: Healing the Body And Mind Through the Art of Yoga.