Omega-3 Fatty Acids: Relationship between Fish, the Human Brain, and Survival

How did humans get so smart in the first place?

Being labeled a fat-head may actually be a compliment. Our brains are primarily composed of fatty tissues responsible for cognitive function. Without healthy fats from our diet, our brains are unable to run at capacity — this may be the reason for ADHD, alzheimers, schizophrenia, or other brain-nervous system disorders.

Humans evolved superior intelligence by dominating the food chain. The nutrition available to people at the top of a food chain is vast — choosing to eat both plants and animals expands nutrient uptake. Both the abundance and wide variety of nutrients fueled the evolution of the human brain, and therefore our intelligence.

1. The bottom of the omega-3 ladder:

Algae, plankton, and other microorganisms

From the sea bottom, algae absorbs nutrients from the water and energy directly from the sun. These small organisms produce high quality nutrients, especially the Omega-3 fatty acid known as α-linolenic acid. Alpha-linolenic acid (ALA) is known as the “vegetarian” source of Omega-3s because many plants can synthesize this particular type of fat.

Alpha-linolenic acid (Omega-3) is very useful, but it is only the first and most basic form of Omega-3, so it must be converted into a more usable form

2. Small fish act as factories and healthy fat processors.

Oily fish like sardines and menhaden consume the plankton or algae, which typically provide all of the nutrients required for life — essentially a superfood for small fish. But these fish take it one step further…

Small fish like sardines and menhaden continue the brilliant cycle of life by converting Alpha-linolenic acid (Omega-3) into the next forms of Omega-3, EPA and DHA (Omega-3).

Beginning with Alpha-linolenic acid (Omega-3, ALA), fish utilize a process to transform more fat into eicosapentaenoic acid (Omega-3, EPA) and docosahexaenoic acid (Omega-3, DHA).

Unlike humans, these fish are very efficient at converting Omega-3 from the ALA form into the higher EPA and further on to DHA. But not all fish are good at converting ALA into EPA. In fact, larger fish like Cod rely on eating smaller fish in order to provide them with the readily available Omega-3 in both EPA and DHA forms.

Humans cannot easily convert ALA from plant sources (such as flaxseed) into EPA or DHA. This is why eating fish and using fish oil supplements is generally regarded as superior to flaxseed for Omega-3’s.

3. Coastal communities equal successful diets for brain growth

Millions of people still rely on seafood for the majority of their diet, a trend that has continued over hundreds of thousands of years. Why? Seafood is one key to a healthy brain, nervous system, and skeletal-muscular system.

The theory of evolution argues that humans developed such powerful brains because our ancestors established reliable food sources for brain power — primarily fish.

While you may picture humans living in the African savanna, most populations settled near rivers and coasts in order to consume large amounts of fish. Aside from the protein, fish provide higher amounts of Omega-3 EPA and DHA than any other animal in the human diet.

As a result of heavy fish consumption, our ancestors had an excess of nutrients — vast nutrients to evolve more complexities to our brains.

Why EPA and DHA (Omega-3) Matter SO Much

Clogged, not enough Omega-3's

The major disease of our time, such as heart disease and arthritis, are diseases of inflammation. Due to diet and poor lifestyle habits, chronic inflammation degrades the arteries, joints, and tissues in the body. This ultimately results in pain and disease.

EPA (Omega-3) is known as the anti-inflammatory oil. The natural compounds in EPA (Omega-3) protect arteries by smoothing the lining, provide anti-inflammatory relief for the joints, and maintain healthy tissue in the body.

From a brain standpoint, the other fatty acid, DHA (Omega-3) fulfills vital functions in the cells. In fact, 90% of the omega-3’s in your brain are DHA — just imagine how much brain power you lose if you don’t get enough DHA from your diet. Moreover, DHA (omega-3) provides essential lubrication and protection for the cells in your retina (the eyeball is an extension of your brain), so if you value your vision, you will eat your fish.

We have lost touch with our natural humanity

Even though society has innovated technology to produce food for billions of people, we are more undernourished than ever. We need to get in touch with the successful diet of our ancestors — we must move forward to a time where diabetes and heart disease no longer threaten the soul of a nation.

Real health comes from the inside out, and you truly are what you eat. While it may seem funny to consider the health of each individual cell in your body, it is true that the healthier your cells, the healthier the YOU. EPA and DHA (Omega-3’s) are utilized by your body in millions of individual cells, in the arteries of your body, and in the membranes of your very being.

To regain what our ancestors worked so hard to evolve, we can consume a simple fish oil supplement.

Healthy cells make for a healthy person.

Recommended Fish Oil Dose:

Typically we pass on health professional’s recommendation of 1,000 mg combined EPA/DHA per day. This is usually two to four capsules depending on the concentration.

Personally, I consume up to 6 grams combined EPA/DHA per day, but I also drink Cod Liver Oil from the bottle.

We here at Ellison Fitness wish you the best for quality of life, and truly believe in the vital importance of EPA and DHA (Omega-3) in every healthy diet. Unless you consume oily fish two times per week, we urge you to supplement with Fish Oil.

Now excuse me for a moment, my friends, I’ve got a fish cocktail waiting for me…

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