Article at a glance
- National Women's Health Week is a reminder for women to make physical and mental health a priority.
- Omega-3 fatty acids have been found to support women's brain health through every stage of life by improving mood and cognitive performance, as well as decreasing risk for cognitive decline.
- Along with a brain-healthy diet, there are several other lifestyle factors that support women's brain health throughout life.
The 21st annual National Women's Health Week kicks off this Mother's Day and serves as a reminder for women to make their health a priority and build positive health habits for life. It's well known that a balanced diet is a cornerstone of healthy living, but nutrition can affect more than just your waistline, it can also change your brain. Women at every age can support their brain health by eating a well-balanced whole food diet, and consuming adequate amounts of omega-3 fatty acids, the often overlooked and under-consumed nutrient that every brain craves.
Omega-3 fatty acids DHA and EPA can support women in different ways throughout their life cycle. Young women might struggle with the pressures of social acceptance, stereotypes about appearance, new and fluctuating hormones, and stresses that surround academic performance. A growing body of evidence has explored the effects of increased omega-3 intake on several aspects of youth and young adult health. Research shows that adequate omega-3 intake during these years can improve testing abilities and cognitive performance, reduce ADHD symptoms, and reduce symptoms of depression and anxiety.
During reproductive years many women experience a whole new set of health obstacles, and women at this stage of life can benefit from omega-3s before, during, and after pregnancy. Maternal intake of Omega-3s is just as crucial for the cognitive and neural support of the child as it is for the mother. Research shows that getting enough omega-3s during pregnancy can lead to higher intelligence, and decreased risk for developmental delays, ADHD, autism, and cerebral palsy in children. Additionally, studies show omega-3 intake has positive effects on memory function and improved brain structure for moms too.
Women going through menopause and into their later years might be too concerned with hot flashes to worry about their brain health, but this is a critical time. Women over the age of 65 have a 1 in 5 chance of developing Alzheimer's, and there are action steps women can take daily to reduce that risk. Evidence indicates that higher omega-3 intake is associated with decreased risk of age-related cognitive decline, Alzheimer's disease, and depression. Even more so, omega-3s can better preserve executive brain function and brain volume into your golden years.
The brain is the most significant and complex organ of the body, and we are becoming increasingly aware of how vital omega-3s are to optimize brain health and longevity. Along with a brain-healthy diet, other modifiable risk factors can support women's brain health at every stage of life, including not smoking, maintaining regular physical activity, sustaining a healthy weight, getting adequate sleep, and continuing healthy relationships. What are you doing for your brain health during National Women's' Health Week?