Chalk up another benefit for Omega-3 fatty acids found in fish oil. A diet rich with the fatty acids has been shown to reduce a person’s risk for ALS or Lou Gehrig’s disease. The disease causes nerve muscles to breakdown and eventually die. Individuals with ALS eventually lose all ability over voluntary movements and die. Patients that are diagnosed with the disease normally die within 3-5 years of the onset of symptoms.
A new study is out from Harvard that looked at the diets from five different study groups. Over a million participants were analyzed for their diets via questionnaires. The follow-up period for the studies ranged from 9-25 years.
Over the course of the five studies, 955 deaths were attributed to Lou Gehrig’s disease. Here’s where researchers found the link between Omega-3s and the reduced risk. Participants who ate a diet rich in the fatty acid saw a decreased risk of the disease.
Also found in the research was no evidence that age, BMI or smoking status played a role in creasing the risk of the disease. Study authors concluded that further research is needed to confirm the link, but the results were promising.
“Further research, possibly including biomarkers of PUFA intake, should be pursued to confirm these findings and to determine whether high omega-3 PUFA intake could be beneficial in individuals with [Lou Gehrig’s disease].”
If you are looking for foods that are rich in omega-3s, it ranges the dietary spectrum. Salmon, sardines, shrimp, tofu, flax seeds, brussels sprouts and soybeans are all excellent sources of the fatty acid.
There are some drawbacks to the study, leading to calls for a direct omega-3 study. Deaths attributed to ALS were oftentimes classified as a motor neuron disease. This could have led to misclassifications of the disease.
Further studies into smoking, BMI and exercise are also needed to judge the direct risk factor in developing ALS. Regardless, a diet with omega-3s seems like a prudent course of action for most people.
The studied was published in JAMA Neurology.