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An ingredient abundant in an animal food from the bottom of the sea – popular in Asian countries – promises to delay the effects of ageing on brain function and fight inflammation – What other foods do we find it in?

Feeding a diet of tunicates or urochordates may slow the effects of ageing, claim scientists from China who fed mice with the marine organisms. The findings of the study were analyzed by Professor of Musculoskeletal Ageing, Dr Ilaria Bellantuono, from the University of Sheffield.

Readl Also: The 6 Best Foods For Brain Health, According to Harvard Nutritionist

As part of the experiment, the mice were fed plasmalogens from tunicates, a class of lipids found in nerve cells in particular as well as the membrane of human organs such as the brain, kidneys, muscles and lungs, and in foods such as chicken, pork, beef, mussels and scallops.

Plasmalogens are involved, among other things, in regulating the exchange of information between cells and protecting their DNA from damage, and are also associated with reducing inflammation. Previous studies have found that plasmalogen concentration in the blood decreases with age, but particularly in people with Alzheimer’s disease.

Read Also: 8 Habits You Need To Adopt Today To Stop Alzheimer’s or Dementia Before It Starts

In a recent study, scientists fed middle-aged female mice with significantly higher amounts of plasmalogens, (300 to 500 times more), than would be provided by a serving of chicken or scallops.

They then assessed the memory of the rodents and some important parameters of brain structure and function that mutate with age, namely the number of neural stem cells that give rise to new neurons (nerve cells) and the number of synapses between the latter. These are two important factors in maintaining the ability to learn, remember and reason.

The anti-aging seafood that shields memory and reduces inflammation
– Large organisms, like these tunicates, live inside the recesses of a ship’s hull while microscopic organisms form a film across all the painted surfaces on the boat. (Ian Davidson, Smithsonian) (source)

Providing plasmalogens for two months was associated with an improvement in these parameters and a marked reduction in inflammation compared to mice on a normal diet. Inflammation increases with age and is considered a serious aggravating factor for Alzheimer’s disease symptoms.

Finally, the Morris water maze test – a reliable tool for assessing spatial learning and memory based on sensory skills such as good vision – showed improved memory in mice.

However, given that sensory skills decline with age in mice until they are completely lost (e.g., blindness and deafness), caution is needed when reading the findings. As Dr. Bellantuono explains, the perceived improvement in memory could be the result of improvements in such sensory skills rather than memory.

It should be noted that the recent findings are reinforced by those of an earlier study, which had shown that feeding scallop plasmalogens to people with mild cognitive impairment twice a day for 24 weeks was associated with better memory.

However, the beneficial effects were observed only in a subgroup of patients from women under 77 years of age, which is still unexplained.

Read Also: Which Food Should We Eat Less If We Want to Live Longer [Evidence Based]

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