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Survey results: Got depression? Eat fish

Data gathered in China suggests that the high amounts of Omega-3 found in sea food may help people avoid depression, which has emerged as a serious global issue.

fish dinner
Via Pixabay.com

A recent study has found evidence that a diet rich in fish can help people ward off depression risks. Evidence continues to mount that fish is among the healthiest choices as far as meats go, helping to provide energy for both the heart and brain, and generally being low in fats, cholesterols, and other potentially detrimental nutrients.

Scientists drew this conclusion after examining a huge range of data. The research was conducted in China by scientists at the Dongfeng Zhang of Medical College of Qingdao University. The data examined was collected from over 150,000 people. Researchers  found that a diet high in fish could reduce risks of depression by as much as 17 percent. Given that depression is a mounting health problem affecting countries across the globe, this discovery could prove to be vital.

Breaking down the data by gender, researchers found that men enjoyed a bit more of a positive boost from fish, while “only” risk reduction for women can in at “only” 16 percent. Researchers examined a wide range of data and studies published between 2001 and 2014 to draw their conclusions.

Research has also shown that people who consume lower amounts of fish and fish oils are more likely to be depressed. So while eating fish might make you less depressed, not eating fish could actually make you more depressed.

So what’s the secret to fish and its potential to reduce depression? It appears that the high omega-3 fatty acid content found in most fish is the key to warding off depression. Researchers believe that omega-3 is actually capable of subtely changing the brain’s microstructure, and can even alter brain membranes. Further, omega-3 is believed to affect dopamine and serotonin levels. Both chemicals are believed to play a major role in depression and risks of depression. Many prescription drugs used to fight depression target the production of these organic chemicals.

Low levels of dopamine and serotonin appear increase the chances of a person suffering from depression. It appears that both external and biological factors can affect the production of dopamine and serotonin. Low levels of these vital neurotransmitters can also affect memory and other mental faculties.

Depression can lead to poorer health, suicide, difficulties holding a job and maintaining relationships, and numerous other things. About 6.7 percent of Americans, nearly 15 million people, are believed to suffer from depression. Suicide is actually the 10th leading cause of death in the United States. In some countries, suicide rates are even higher. In 2013, more than 41,000 Americans took their own life. In Japan, for example, suicide is the 6th leading cause of death. A diet high in fish, however, may be able to reduce depression rates, and thus suicide rates.

Besides fighting depression, fish offers numerous other health benefits. Fish is high in protein, calcium, and phosphorus, all three of which are essential parts of a healthy diet. Those omega-3 acids that appear to benefit neurotransmitters levels, also appear to assist with cardiovascular diseases. As such, the American Health Association recommends that people eat fish twice per week.

As far as other mental conditions go, eating high amounts of fish has also been linked to improving ADHD and reducing the risk of Alzheimer’s disease, as well as dementia.