If you don’t already take a daily fish oil supplement, make 2020 the year you start.
That’s because omega-3 fatty acids, as found in fish oil, wild-caught fish, and seafood, are among the most important nutrients for your health. In fact, ongoing research shows they support many different aspects of health, including cardiovascular health, mood, and brain function. They even protect against cancer.
And now, new research by an archaeologist with Arizona State University suggests that omega-3s probably even helped early humans develop larger, more complex brains…
Early human brains grew with influx of omega-3s
For two decades, Curtis W. Marean, with the Institute of Human Origins at Arizona State University, has been conducting archaeologic digs at an early human community site known as Pinnacle Point in South Africa.
He says most early humans who lived on the savannahs in Africa subsisted mainly on plants and small animals, which do not contain many omega-3 fatty acids.
Then, during a glacial period between 123,000 to 195,000 years ago, some coastal-dwelling humans in Africa dramatically changed their diet. They went from eating plants, animals, and the occasional fresh-water fish to regularly eating the abundance of saltwater shellfish gathered at the nearby shoreline.
Marean says, “accessing the marine food chain could have had huge impacts on fertility, survival, and overall health, including brain health,” due to the sudden
influx of omega-3 fatty acids, including docosahexaenoic acid (DHA). Of course, shellfish also contain essential minerals required by the human brain, such as copper, iodine, iron, selenium, and zinc.
People along the northwest coast of Europe during prehistoric times and on the northwest coast of North America up to the 19th century also enjoyed a diet rich in seafood.
Modern humans still need omega-3s
Maren’s research really makes perfect sense to me, as I learned through my anthropology coursework that the animal brain first began to develop in the ocean 600 million years ago. So, of course, animal brains—including human brains—still require nutrients found primarily in the ocean!
Now, I know vegetarians will argue that you can get omega-3s from plant sources. But research shows that animal brains absorb omega-3s found in seafood with ten-times greater efficiency than DHA from plant sources. (Just one more reason to avoid following a vegetarian diet!)
So, as this new research suggests, we modern humans should continue to eat wild-caught fish every day…as our ancient ancestors did.
But considering the fact that most Americans don’t eat any fish at all during the week, that target isn’t really very realistic.
That’s why I always recommend eating wild-caught fish and seafood as often as you can…while also supplementing daily with a high-quality fish oil.
For guidance on how to pick a quality fish oil and how much to take daily, refer to my report in the June 2018 issue of my Insiders’ Cures monthly newsletter (“Why I’m upping my recommendations for this “controversial” supplement”). If you’re not yet a newsletter subscriber, I can’t think of a better time than right now to become one!
“By Land or by Sea: How Did Early Humans Access Key Brain-Building Nutrients?” Scientific American, 1/1/2016. (scientificamerican.com/article/by-land-or-by-sea-how-did-early-humans-access-key-brain-building-nutrients/)