Engormix/Aquaculture/Technical articles

Eating Fish: The best feeding therapy for humanity

Published on: 11/5/2012
Author/s : M. G Imam (Bauchi State University)

Regular consumption of fish can reduce the risk of various diseases and disorders. Selected research findings indicate that - children who eat fish may be less likely to develop asthma. Fish rich in omega 3 fatty acids can contribute to the health of brain tissue and the retina (the light sensitive tissue lining the inner surface of the eye). The omega 3 fatty acids in fish may reduce the risk of many types of cancers by 30 to 50 percent, especially of the oral cavity, oesophagus, colon, breast, ovary and prostate. Eating fish every week reduces the risk of heart disease and stroke by reducing blood clots and inflammation, improving blood vessel elasticity, lowering blood pressure, lowering blood fats and boosting 'good' cholesterol. Elderly people who eat fish or seafood at least once a week may have a lower risk of developing dementia, including Alzheimer's disease. People who regularly eat fish have a lower incidence of depression (depression is linked to low levels of omega 3 fatty acids in the brain). Fish may help people with diabetes manage their blood sugar levels. Breastfed babies of mothers who eat fish have better eyesight, perhaps due to the omega 3 fatty acids transmitted in breast milk. Regular fish consumption may relieve the symptoms of rheumatoid arthritis, psoriasis and autoimmune disease. Eating fish during pregnancy may help reduce the risk of delivering a premature baby.

Healthy diets almost always contain fish, a protein food with fewer calories than other meat sources. It's also one of nature's most versatile foods. As well as different species of fish, you can steam, bake, fry or poach fish. But there have been conflicting health messages around the benefits of eating fish. Long regarded as low in fat and high in "good fats," the health benefits have been overwhelmed by concerns about the environmental problems caused by over-fishing and health risks caused by pollutants. According to a report from CNN health, the Harvard School of Public Health has reviewed existing studies that looked at the health effects of eating fish. The Harvard study recommended eating up to two portions of fish a week and that eating fish could cut the risk of death from heart disease by a third. The evidence across different studies showed that fish consumption lowers the risk of death from heart disease by 36 percent. The oils in some fish appear to reduce the blood from clotting by reducing the stickiness of the blood. The most beneficial fish in this context is oily fish such as salmon or mackerel. The researchers also suggested that eating that amount of fish or fish oil intake reduces total mortality by 17 percent. Furthermore, Studies have shown that fish alleviates a range of ailments which include Prostate cancer, Depression as well as Inflammation
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Lives of thousands of people suffering from heart disease could be saved every year if people ate more fish, a study by a British university has found.
The Omega-3 fish oils are far more powerful than previously thought at warding off heart disease; the Daily Express cited the study by theUniversity ofReading as saying. Eating just two or three portions of fish like sardines, salmon or mackerel every week or taking an oil supplement will do the job, the study said. Earlier studies also showed that fish oils can dramatically cut the risk of death by slashing blood fat, and thereby reducing the chance of a blood clot. The latest study found that fish oils have a direct impact on muscle cells that control the elasticity of blood vessels. People who have suffered a heart attack are encouraged to eat more fish or take a fish oil capsule. The researchers introduced small amounts of fish oils to meals containing saturated fat eaten by both men and women, and found that muscle elasticity was improved four-fold in women and two-fold in men. The fish oils were so effective on women that they matched the benefits of L-arginine, an amino acid supplement taken for heart health. The study was published in The Journal of Lipid Research. "While our study found fish oils to be particularly beneficial for women they are also effective for men. Adding oily fish to your diet can help increase the elasticity of our blood vessels which is key to lowering blood pressure," Christine Williams, who led the study, was quoted as saying by the British daily. 
High levels of mercury during pregnancy may increase the risk of children with ADHD, a study has found, while eating fish reduces chances of the disorder.
Choosing the right fish to eat in pregnancy could be vital to balance benefits but limit mercury intake, as researchers link the metal to ADHD in children. Researchers found that women with the highest levels of mercury were between 40 per cent and 70 per cent more likely to have children showing symptoms of ADHD eight years later. The authors, fromBostonUniversity, inAmerica, said that the primary source of mercury was from eating fish. However, children born to women who ate more than two portions of fish per week were 60 per cent less likely to have attention and hyperactivity symptoms. This showed the 'difficulties of balancing the benefits of fish intake with the detriments of low-level mercury exposure in developing dietary recommendations in pregnancy', the researchers said. It may be that women with the highest levels of mercury were consuming fish high in the heavy metal, such as swordfish, shark and marlin, where as most women ate fish with relatively low levels such as sardines and mackerel. Other experts suggested that the women may have been exposed to another source of mercury. Experts praised the research for being rigorous and said it added important information about mercury in the environment.  It is the first time that eating fish in pregnancy has been linked to a lower risk of ADHD in children. It is thought up to 12 percent of children could suffer from attention deficit hyperactivity disorder and links have already been made with women smoking and being exposed to lead during pregnancy. The researchers took hair samples of 421 mothers around the time of giving birth, inNew Bedford,Massachusetts, and asked them about their consumption of fish while pregnant. Then eight years later they assessed the children for signs of ADHD. They found that one microgram of mercury per gram of hair or more was associated with a rise in the likelihood of the child having ADHD symptoms. This was a level slightly lower than the current recommended safe limit, the team wrote in the journal
RECOMMENDATIONS FOR EATING FISH: On the one hand, fish is a low-fat, high-protein food that fits perfectly into a healthy diet—and should be enjoyed at least twice a week. Even fatty fish, such as salmon, contain heart-healthy omega-3 fatty acids, which, among other things, help boost artery-clearing HDL cholesterol and reduce inflammation. Yet we are also told that eating fish can expose us to dangerous contaminants such as mercury, and chemicals such as PCBs. So is fish good or bad for us? Which advises the government on health policy, tries to help sort through the confusion. It concludes that eating fish twice a week is indeed good for us—that the potential cardiovascular benefits outweigh the risks of exposure to contaminants, and that government agencies should do a better job of promoting this message. But despite this endorsement, researchers at the institute are unclear how eating fish fights heart disease. It may be the omega-3 fatty acids, or simply eating lean fish in place of high-fat, high-cholesterol meats. Yet they are convinced that fish-based omega-3s offer neurological benefits to babies, and help mothers carry their babies to term. As a result, the institute states that pregnant women can consume up to 12 ounces of fish a week (including up to six ounces of albacore tuna), and should avoid fish such as shark, tilefish, king mackerel and swordfish. Surprisingly, these general guidelines also apply to children under 12. For everyone else, including those at risk of heart disease, the institute advises that if we eat more than two servings of seafood a week, we should eat a variety of fish to reduce our risk of exposure to contaminants. TheInstitute ofMedicine's report doesn’t provide a list of good and bad fish. Its purpose was simply to assess the risks and benefits of eating fish so government agencies can present a clearer message to consumers. In the meantime, we’ll still debate whether it’s ok to eat farmed salmon, and, in our house, whether fish sticks count as a serving of fish!
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