A study published in this month’s Archives of General Psychiatry has found that fish oil may at least delay, but probably prevent, the onset of schizophrenia. Dr Paul Amminger and his colleagues from the University of Australia carried out a randomised, double blind, controlled study with 81 patients between the ages of 13-25 years. They found a 22.6% difference in risk to progression to psychosis in vulnerable people taking a twelve week course of fish oil, compared with a placebo.
Fish oil contains high levels of the omega 3 fatty acids EPA and DHA. Dr Amminger was surprised to see that the effects of omega 3 were sustained for up to a year and to see a marked but similar reduction in depressive symptoms. Adverse effects of the study, including concentration difficulties, tension and unrest were higher in the placebo group.
Unlike anti-psychotics, fish oil can prevent cell deterioration in the brain and reduce levels of triglycerides that are so damaging to blood vessels. This is very significant because anti-psychotic drugs can rapidly double triglyceride levels.
The research supports a growing body of evidence that fish oil may be a useful tool to fight schizophrenic symptoms; previous research has shown that people with schizophrenia who were treated with omega 3 needed lower doses of anti-psychotic medication. Epidemiological studies show that countries who eat a lot of oily fish, such as Japan, Iceland and Norway have lower levels of shizophrenia.
One of the researchers, Dr Jacka suggested that ‘Omega-3 fatty acids in general are absolutely essential to virtually every aspect of human health.’
To boost your levels of omega 3 fatty acids, it is advisable to eat three portions of oily fish each week. Smaller fish such as whitebait, sardines and mackerel tend to be lower in toxic mercury. Wild or organic salmon or trout are preferable to farmed varieties. The Food Standards Agency recommends that pregnant or breastfeeding women should eat no more than two medium sized cans of tuna each week or one fresh tuna steak. Shark, swordfish and Marlin contain high levels of mercury and shouldn’t be eaten by pregnant or breastfeeding women or children under 16.
To find out more about testing you fatty acid status Click Here.
To read more about mental health and how nutrition can help Click Here.
Why not try these delicious recipes to boost your intake of omega 3?
Herrings with mustard and dill
For the sauce, peel and deseed 1 small cucumber, then grate and squeeze out the excess water. Mix with a handful of chopped dill, 200g natural yogurt, the juice of 1/2 a lemon, salt, pepper and a pinch of paprika.
Fillet 4 cleaned whole herrings and brush with 2tbsp mustard over the boned sides. Mix 4-5 tbsp porridge oats with 1 tsp thyme leaves and use to coat the herring fillets. Heat 1-2 tbsp olive oil gently in a non-stick frying pan and fry the fish for 1 minute on each side. Serve immediately with the sauce.
Smoked trout, orange and wild rocket salad
4 tbsp extra virgin olive oil to drizzle
sea salt and black pepper
200g wild rocket leaves
2 hot smoked trout fillets
1. To segment the oranges, cut off the top and bottom of one and stand upright on a board. Cut along the curve of the fruit to remove the skin and white pith, exposing the flesh. Now hold over a sieve set on top of a bowl and cut out the segments, letting each one drop into the sieve as you go along. Finally, squeeze the membrane over the sieve to extract as much juice as possible. Repeat with the remaining oranges, then tip the segments into another bowl.
2. For the dressing, add the olive oil and a little seasoning to the orange juice and whisk to combine.
3. Add the rocket to the orange sgments, then flak the smoked trout into the bowl. Add the dressing and toss gently with your hands. Pile onto plates and serve with rye bread.
Recipes taken from ‘Healthy Appetite’ by Gordon Ramsay
Japanese style tuna salad
350g fresh tuna steak
large bunch rocket
1/2 large cucumber, sliced in long strips
4 spring onions, finely sliced
8 cherry tomatoes, halved
1 tbsp sesame seeds, lightly toasted
For the marinade:
2 tbsp tamari or soy sauce
1 tbsp sake/sherry
1/2 teaspoon wasabi paste
For the dressing:
1 tbsp lime juice
2 tbsp tamari or soy sauce
2 teaspoons sesame oil
Mix the tamari, sake and wasabi in a bowl to make the marinade, Cut up the tuna steak into bite-sized chunks and mix with the marinade. Combine the ingredients for the dressing in a small bowl. Pile the rocket, cucumber strips, spring onion and tomatoes on two plates. Heat a griddle pan, or non-stick frying pan and toss the tuna pieces for a fe seconds on each side to sear them. Lay then on top of the salad and drizzle with the dressing. Top with the toasted sesame seeds.
Taken from ‘The Kitchen Shrink’ by Natalie Savona