In her deep indigenous wisdom, my grandmother once taught the children in her care that food and health are inextricably linked. For instance, that certain kinds of soup are good for certain illnesses. Or the right kind of food for each particular purpose - to make you stronger when you need it, to keep this or that disease at bay. For a long time, science scoffed at the knowledge of native people, but now an increasing number of studies are showing that my grandmother and others like her were right.
Take, for example, a new piece of medical research carried out by several scientists and presented at the Radiological Society of North America. According to these researchers' findings, fish can save you from mild cognitive impairment - often a precursor to Alzheimer's disease - and Alzheimer's itself. If you eat it baked or broiled, and at least once a week, it makes the gray matter in your brain healthier by increasing the size and strength of its neurons. This is good because gray matter volume is directly linked to memory and cognitive skills. The more gray matter in your brain, the more resistance it can put up against Alzheimer's and other such diseases.
Fish Fillet via Shutterstock
Another advantage of the broiled/baked fish strategy is that it can make us smarter. People with higher volumes of gray matter in their brain, the study suggests, have better working memories and are more capable of processing information. Eating fish is by no means the universal panacea for all brain-related afflictions, but combining the physiological boost it gives us with the right kinds of physical and mental activity can go a long way toward improving the health and performance of our brains.
For the millions of people worldwide at risk of Alzheimer's disease, this new research is very good news - as for the many more millions of other people trying to combat a wide host of brain afflictions. A word of caution, however: for some reason the scientists haven't been able to figure out, this method doesn't work when you fry the fish. So, for those of us who like our food greasy, we might want to switch to the leaner versions instead.