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THURSDAY, APRIL 21, 2016
The Rockaway Times
By Peter Galvin, MD
Seafood is usually rec-
ommended as part of a
well-rounded diet. But sea-
food, because of decades of
river and ocean dumping,
may contain elevated levels
of mercury. This is especially
true for striped bass as they
spawn in the upper Hudson
River into which factories
dumped pollutants for many
years. Mercury is well known
to be a neurotoxin, in oth-
er words it may damage the
nervous system, which in-
cludes the brain. But seafood
is also considered to be help-
ful in fending off Alzheimer’s
dementia. So is it good or
bad to consume seafood?
A recently published study
by Rush University Medical
Center in Chicago has an-
swered this question. The
study, which ran from 2004 to
2013, had participants fill out
dietary habit questionnaires
at sign-up. The participants
agreed to post-mortem brain
pathology exams if they died
during the study period.
Then the participants took
annual neurologic exams
designed to detect dementia.
It turns out that higher brain
mercury levels did correlate
with higher seafood con-
sumption however the high-
er mercury levels did not
cause any brain damage or
pathology. In addition high-
er mercury levels also corre-
lated with lower pathologic
brain abnormalities usually
associated with Alzheimer’s
disease and lower incidence
of neurologic exam findings
consistent with dementia
(while the participant was
alive). In other words the
study found that higher sea-
food consumption corre-
lated with lower incidence
of Alzheimer’s dementia. It
also correlated with higher
brain levels of mercury but
these higher levels did not
cause any brain abnormal-
ities. So I guess fish really is
“brain food!”
In the same journal was an
article about the eighth edi-
tion (2015-2020) of Dietary
Guidelines for Americans,
which was released by the
Departments of Health and
Human Services and Agri-
culture. Much of what the
Guidelines contain is com-
mon sense. For example
they recommend following
a healthy eating pattern for
life, limiting calories from
added sugars and saturated
fats, reducing sodium in-
take and shifting to healthier
food and beverage choices.
Food recommendations in-
clude consuming a variety
of vegetables from all sub-
groups like dark green, red
and orange, legumes (beans
and peas) and starchy vege-
tables (peas, corn and lima
beans) and other foods such
as whole fruits, grains (at
least half of which are whole
grains), fat-free or low fat
dairy including milk, yogurt,
cheese and soy beverages, a
variety of proteins includ-
ing seafood, lean meats and
poultry, eggs, legumes, nuts,
seeds and soy products and
oils. The Guidelines also
contain
recommendations
to meet the Physical Activ-
ity Guidelines for Ameri-
cans. The Guidelines may be
found at :
www.health.gov/Dietary-
Guidelines
Please direct questions and
comments to editor@rocka-
waytimes.com
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By Peter Galvin, MD
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Brain Food