DHA

  1. Atrial fibrillation cases could double

    A-fib risks on the rise

    Short of heart disease itself, atrial fibrillation is one of the most serious conditions your heart could face -- and I'm seeing more patients with it than ever before.

    Looks like I'm not the only one, either.

    The number of atrial fibrillation patients is growing so fast that it could double or even triple within just a few years -- from 5 million patients today to 12 million or even as much as 17 million by 2030 if current trends continue, according to a new study.

    Now, I've never been much for trends myself. But as far as trends go, this is one you want no part of -- because atrial fibrillation is one of the worst irregular heartbeat conditions around.

    It strikes when the upper chambers of the heart fall out of synch with the lower ones, resulting in palpitations so severe they can be painful. Some of my patients tell me it feels as if the heart is trying to jump right out of the body.

    I hope you never experience that yourself.

    But even worse than how it feels is what it does to you -- because atrial fibrillation can increase your risk of stroke by as much as 500 percent and dementia by 130 percent.

    It can also increase your risk of heart failure and even death.

    If you don't have atrial fibrillation, you can take steps right now to minimize your risk -- and you can start with the healthy decisions you know you should be making anyway: Don't smoke, watch your weight and eat right.

    Second, take fish oil supplements. One recent study finds that seniors with the highest levels of omega-3 fatty acids -- especially DHA -- have a 30 percent lower risk of A-fib than seniors with the lowest.

    Third, watch out for sleep apnea. That's a condition where you stop breathing in your sleep -- and it's known to put such a strain on the heart that it can cause A-fib (not to mention dementia, heart disease and more).

    The best treatment for apnea is plain old weight loss.

    Fourth, be more active -- because a sedentary lifestyle is another major A-fib risk factor. (But if you do get the condition, speak to your doctor about the best way to get your exercise. In some cases, exertion can trigger A-fib episodes.)

    And finally, limit your drinking or give it up completely, especially if you have heart disease or risk factors for heart disease.

    I know many people believe moderate drinking is good for the heart, but the truth is much more complicated -- because booze packs plenty of clear risks along with some very debatable benefits. Last year, for example, a study found that moderate drinkers with heart disease, diabetes or risk factors for heart disease have a 15 percent higher risk of A-fib.

    If you do get A-fib, don't panic. It can be treated and even cured. In fact, one type of A-fib has an 80 percent cure rate through treatment and the same healthy lifestyle changes I just mentioned.

    For these patients, A-fib is just a brief and scary episode.

    But if you make those changes today, you might never battle that episode in the first place.

  2. How fish oil can stop oxidative stress

    Omega-3 protects the brain

    Aging gets a lot of bad press, but the real reason seniors have a higher disease risk isn't time alone.

    It's the oxidative stress that comes along with it.

    That's why it's so important to make sure you're getting sufficient levels of antioxidant nutrients as you get older. But don't stop there -- because while the omega-3 fatty acids found in fish oil generally aren't considered antioxidants, they can also help prevent or even reverse the damage caused by oxidative stress.

    And that's especially true in the brain.

    In one new study, seniors with the highest intakes of DHA and EPA had the lowest levels of lipid hydroperoxide, or LPO.

    OK, there's a lot of letters in that alphabet soup, so let me sort them out for you.

    DHA and EPA are, of course, two of the most essential omega-3s -- and the two main fatty acids you'll find in a quality fish oil supplement.

    LPO is less familiar to most people, but it's a common marker of oxidative stress in the brain. You want as little as possible, and the new study shows why: It increases the risk of cognitive impairment -- specifically, problems with global cognitive function, short-term memory, learning, and attention.

    High levels of omega-3s, on the other hand, can do just the opposite, protecting overall cognitive function as well as short-term memory, attention spans, and recall, according to the study in the Journal of Nutritional Biochemistry.

    The researchers believe DHA in particular helps the body to produce the enzymes needed to fight oxidative stress damage in the brain.

    And that may be part of it.

    But we also know from other studies that omega-3 fatty acids protect the brain in a number of other ways, both directly and indirectly. Indirectly, they help with heart health and overall circulation -- and good circulation is critical to brain function.

    More directly, the brain itself thrives on omega-3 fatty acids -- which is why fish oil has been shown to help protect and improve memory, mood, and more even in healthy people.

    (Did you know that fish oil has been shown to help seniors beat the blues? Click here to read all about it.)

    Be sure to look for a quality supplement that has been purified to remove contaminants such as mercury.

  3. Saturated fats kill sperm

    Saturated fats -- the unhealthiest of the fats found in meat and junk food -- can cause sperm counts to plunge by 41 percent.
  4. Chia seed is rich in the essential fatty acid ALA

    Chia seed is an excellent source of the essential fatty acid alpha-linolenic acid (ALA) your body needs
  5. Omega-3 fatty acid DHA can protect your vision

    The omega-3 fatty acid DHA can protect your eyes from age-related vision loss by sweeping toxins out of your retina.
  6. Omega-3 fatty acids in fish oil can slash cancer risk

    There's another great reason to eat more seafood as the latest research shows how the omega-3 fatty acids in fish oil can slash your risk of cancer.
  7. Easy and inexpensive ways to boost your brainpower

    Want to be smart? Follow your mother's advice and don't forget to take your vitamins -- because even the basics can deliver noticeable and almost immediate benefits.
  8. Feed your brain some fat

    There are plenty of places on the body where you definitely don't want fat building up. But there's one place you want as fat as can be, and that's right inside your skull.
  9. Fish oil and vitamin A can save your vision

    Some two million people around the world suffer from a serious degenerative eye disease that literally has no treatment at all beyond "cross your fingers and hope for the best." But if you're suffering from the gradual -- and ultimately total -- loss of vision that marks retinitis pigmentosa, you don't have to cross your fingers anymore.
  10. Fish oil can slash A-fib risk

    Fish oil isn't just the best natural way to fight the ravages of heart disease -- it's also the best way to avoid problems with your ticker in the first place.
  11. The real secret to saving your eyes

    At some point in the next month, the feds are expected to approve a new drug to help treat macular degeneration, the leading cause of blindness in seniors.
  12. Omega-3s may slash diabetes risk

    Some fats, like omega-3 fatty acids, can actually protect your heart -- and two new studies confirm yet again that these essential oils can slash your diabetes risk.

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