The study, led by Dr Cheng Chen of Columbia University's Irving Medical Center, analyzed the data of more than 1,300 women, aged 65-80 years-old, who underwent brain scans during a two year period. The research team then looked at the Omega-3 and fish consumption of the study's participants and also how much air pollution they were exposed to.
The scientists discovered that consuming oily fish with high levels of Omega-3 may help preserve the parts of the brain that are responsible for sending signals and the areas vital for memory.
Slowing the natural deterioration of these parts of the brain could help slow the development or progression of neuro-degenerative diseases such as Alzheimer's.
Exposure to air-borne pollutants including particles containing neuro-toxic metals can cause systemic inflammation - which can lead to brain atrophy.
In an interview with Runner's World magazine Columbia University's Dr Chen highlighted that eating fish high in Omega-3, such as salmon and mackerel, can help fight inflammation in the brain and go some way to even repairing damage to its white matter.
“Environmental pollution is inevitable in some areas,” Chen said. “These findings provide helpful insight regarding how a healthy lifestyle, like healthy diet, could reduce the adverse effects of air pollution on cognitive decline and neuro-degeneration.”
The researchers believe that while this study focused on older women the results among other demographics are likely to be similar.