The best pill for health is a good diet. We all know that and we also know what that diet is. Largely, its Mediterranean with its concentration on fruits and vegetables, olive oil, grains, beans and fish. Add a few nuts and you protect your heart as well as your brain. Cut out sugar, a major contributor to inflammation, and reaching the age of 100 with your mind still functioning looks like child’s play. Or so the on-going studies purport.
Slowly but inevitably, Americans are accepting that diet is a major factor in good health and markets are responding, bringing a greater variety of fruits and vegetables to their shelves and increasing their organic selections. Why we thrive on the Mediterranean diet is probably less well known. The reason lies in our near extinction.
Writer Bret Stetka explains. During the glacial period known as Marine Isotope Stage 6 (MIS6), which occurred 160,000 years ago, most of our ancestors were wiped out. A few clustered at a site called Pinnacle Point in South Africa. In that sheltered area, survivors lived largely on plants, fish and shellfish beds in the area, supplemented with the flesh of a few land animals. That fish rich source, says researcher, Curtis Marean, accounts for growth in the human brain. (“In Search of the Optimal Brain Diet,” by Bret Stetka, Scientific American Mind, March/April, 2016 pg. 31.)
Michael Crawford, another researcher, doesn’t agree. He thinks the brain’s dependence on food from the sea began earlier. (Ibid pg. 31) What both scientists have observed, however, is that omega-3, found in grains, plants and fish, is a building block for brain development. When we turned from those food sources to land based animals, we altered our diets for the worse. (Ibid pg. 32)
What neither researcher makes clear is that the source of omega-3 isn’t the fish, but the algae upon which fish feed. I learned this from a doctor who advised me to take omega-3 supplements. When I told her I was vegetarian, she explained about the fish/algae connection.
Omega-3 derived from fish is a good source, of course. But, if anyone wants information about the vegetarian alternative, contact me at my yahoo address on my website. I have no financial or business arrangement with the makers of the product.