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Fishing for a Healthy Brain

An essential fatty acid found in coldwater fish keeps brains healthy — and may make babies smarter



Dr.'s Mehmet Oz and Michael Roizen say they can make patients beautiful on the outside by getting them healthy on the inside and they have a new blueprint for improving everything from your hair to your relationships.

  Roizen, a doctor of internal medicine and an anesthesiologist, teamed up with cardiologist/TV personality Oz to write the book, YOU: Being Beautiful, which helps readers create inner and outer beauty and health, especially brain health. The bad news is Louisiana and Mississippi rank near the bottom of a national brain-health index, Oz and Roizen say. Fish oil is one way to keep your brain young and decrease joint inflammation. It contains the essential fatty acid DHA, a nutrient lacking in many Louisianians' diets.

  "Louisiana is very low in fish with DHA," Roizen says. "Dr. Oz and I get (DHA) in a supplement with algae DHA — that's where the fish get it from, algae — and (it's) really easy to take every morning."

  Cold-water fish such as tuna and salmon are high in DHA. When taken during pregnancy, it can decrease postpartum depression while also helping a new baby's overall health. It also may boost a child's IQ.

  "There's some studies out now from this CHARGE group [the Childhood Autism Risks from Genetics and Environment study at the University of California at Davis] that say if you take a prenatal vitamin (with DHA) three months before you're pregnant ... you decrease your risk of autism in your offspring by 40 percent as well as decrease congenital malformation and childhood cancers," Roizen says.

  He adds that our brains are hardwired to choose mates based on their their beauty and health so that we pass on healthy genes to our children. Fish oil helps there, too.

  "One of the interesting things we learned in looking at that essential fatty acid DHA is (about) the hip shape men regard as so beautiful. That is DHA fat in the hips, and that is what actually nourishes the brain of our youngsters," Roizen says.

  Games like ping-pong and Monopoly aren't just for children; playing games and doing crossword puzzles help the brain, while stress, not sleeping enough and overwork hurt it.

  "One of the most important things in work is having a best friend at work, someone you spend time with at work so that you actually enjoy that time at work more," Roizen says.

Look for Meg Farris' Medical Watch reports weeknights on WWL-TV Channel 4 and anytime on wwltv.com.

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