Omega-3 fatty acids have been long touted for their beneficial effects on heart health and stroke prevention. One study even remarks that a 1% increase of omega-3s in the bloodstream may increase longevity by five years, equivalent to quitting smoking.
However, cardiovascular disease and related risks aren’t the only conditions omega-3s combat. In recent years, medical research has highlighted the positive impacts of fish oil on mental health, including depression, bipolar disorder, schizophrenia, attention-deficit disorder and anxiety.
Many suggested omega-3 benefits include aiding the treatment of psychiatric disorders, pointing to their anti-inflammatory and cognition-boosting effects. Eating omega-3 foods, such as salmon, tuna, flaxseed, walnuts, soybean, and fortified foods like eggs and yogurt, can affect your mood in the following three ways.
Does omega-3 increase serotonin levels? Although findings are somewhat mixed, several studies support fish oil’s ability to balance mood variability.
For instance, clinical trials imply that omega-3’s ability to travel through the brain cell membrane allows it to alter mood molecules and reduce neural inflammation. As a result, people may notice an improvement in depressive feelings.
Mood disorders have little concept of age or gender, impacting people at every stage of life, including children. In fact, females between 12 and 17 are three times more likely to experience an early depressive episode during adolescence than males.
Additionally, the National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH) reports that 2.8% of American adults over 18 had bipolar disorder in 2021, and 4.4% tend to experience significant mood fluctuations at some point in their lives.
Mood stabilizers can also change our bodies’ metabolism and modify how we sense pain. During a 2021 study, researchers increased omega-3 consumption in the diets of 82 participants with type 1 or 2 bipolar disorder, resulting in improved moods.
One thing is for sure — omega-3s improve gut health. If you’re wondering what this has to do with your mood, the answer may surprise you.
You may not be fully aware of the link between the body and mind — but the number of good bacteria in your gut can directly affect how the brain functions. Foods like yogurt, kombucha and sauerkraut help introduce healthy bacteria into your gut microbiome, promoting greater gastrointestinal and mental health.
Some omega-3 foods contain other essential nutrients for a healthier mind and body. For instance, salmon is rich in vitamins A and D, which help enhance immunity and cell growth and improve reproductive functions.
Research on the effects of omega-3 foods on anxiety is limited — however, increasing your intake of fish oil could help relieve stress.
A 2018 report examined 19 studies with 1,200 participants, uncovering the connection between high intake of omega-3 fatty acids — about 2,000 milligrams a day — and reduced anxiety symptoms.
People with an anxiety disorder usually have a deficiency in omega-3 polyunsaturated fatty acids (PUFAs), which could exacerbate anxious behaviors.
Although omega-3 benefits may include reducing stress and anxiety levels, more research is needed to understand its impact. As such, it’s best to take anxiety medication in conjunction with omega-3 foods or supplements to combat mood disorders.
What you eat can have a substantial impact on your mental health. Consuming a diet rich in omega-3 fatty acids may help you manage your moods better and improve your gut health.
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