According to a completely random website I found (I am not endorsing it in any way), it claims that the top five global regions with the highest average IQ are Hong Kong, South Korea, Japan, Taiwan and Singapore (IQ 107 to 103). I have also heard through the virtual grapevine, the reason why Japan has a high average IQ is because they eat a lot of suhi, what’s in sushi? Fish, and what’s in fish? Omega-3.
This led me on another quest to explore how fish consumption may lead to a high IQ.
Before I get into it, I would like to state that I personally think IQ tests are the worst way to measure a persons intelligence, but I won’t go on too much about that.
Back to the story, so, if I ate sushi nearly every day for the rest of my life, my ability to solve problems in a logical way will get better? Something smells fishy here…
Firstly, before I slam these poor evidence-based statistics and stereotypes, I wanted to discuss what makes fish consumption so good for us.
Ever noticed the ads on television recommending you eat fish oil capsules?
They usually say”Get your essential daily dose of Omega-3″
It is common knowledge that Omega-3 is good for you. Ever wanted to know why?
Well you are reading the right blog my dear friend. Being the self-proclaimed neuroscientist and average Anatomist student that I am, I always like to know how factors may affect brain and body function ,especially when it’s something as accessible as food (well in the first world that is).
What is Omega-3 you ask?
In the simplest of terms, it is a fat. A good fat. A polyunsaturated fat (PUF).
They are are those really good fats that you should be consuming. The two main PUF’s are Omega-6 and Omega-3.
So great its a good fat, what about it? how is it so good companies produce television advertisements to sell the stuff to me?
The reason why these fats are good for you, is because EVERY single cell in your body needs them. These fats assist in maintaining the structure of your cells. Also, these fats are needed to make the all important blood clotting factors- you know when you cut yourself? and the wound stops bleeding because of these clotting factors.
BUT your not-always-clever body can’t actually produce these PUFs, that’s why it depends on what you eat! So eat fish, but try not to overdose on
Okay, what happens if I stopped eating PUFs?
It would be really really hard to become deficient in polyunsaturated fats, unless you are in a state of starvation and your body has no energy, it begins to use your natural good fats to make energy- NOT GOOD. If you ever get to this point, it’s hard for your body to bounce back from it, so I suggest next time you go tramping in the wild- have some fishing skills handy, or take a pack of sushi (please don’t take this seriously).
Right, so still not connecting sushi/fish with brain function or intelligence?
Neither, but I’ll take a shot.
First things first, neurons are just cells, nerve cells to be exact. There are millions of them that make up the cerebral cortex better known as your brain, and are constantly working night and day.
These cells rely on a number of substances in the body to keep them healthy, and one of them is our good old friend Omega-3. Again, like every other cell in the body, they need them to maintain their structure, and when these cells are being developed (brain development) it needs these “good fats” to build their structure (2).
HOWEVER, your brain cells and body cells need other factors too, there is no point in relying on just these PUFS if you’re neglecting water, fiber, antioxidants and everything else. It’s a combination of factors, and yes you should include these Omega-3 rich foods (e.g. eating a tonne of salmond) in your diet, but having more Omega-3 than your cousin doesn’t necessarily mean you have more neurons than them.
Having more neurons definitely doesn’t mean your brain works “faster” or “better” than anybody else’s brain. You need a bit of everything to keep your body going.
So back to this bold statement that Japan, Hong Kong, South Korea, Taiwan and Singapore have a higher average IQ than the rest of the world. Okay, yes these countries are among the highest fish-consumers in the world, and sushi did originate from Japan.However, to me, most of these regions have superb education systems and are rich in culture.
So, I wouldn’t necessarily say your ability to logically solve problems relies on your fish consumption or Omega-3 rich diet BUT this is good for you. Just don’t expect any intellectual or brain functional changes. So please don’t change the way you eat because of this. Be nice to your body.
Like my mother would say- drink plenty of fluids, eat plenty of good food, get your daily dose of Vitamin D, A, B and Omega 3 but in moderation and stay away from tomatoes.
IQ measurements are so outdated, just to prove how ridiculous this is, I thought I would put myself to the test (see link below). I got 120, I found another probably-not-even-worth doing IQ quiz and got about 130.
you can too- just click this link: www.free-iqtest.net/
Image 1: http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Sushi_bento.jpg