We know that the nervous system is the most important entity driving human performance (see SpartaPoint 2/24/10), initiating and adjusting movement to produce the desired result, whether it be a faster arm swing, higher jump, or stronger push. Repeating your sport skills through practice is ultimately the best way to improve this neural functioning (see SpartaPoint 7/8/09), but there is something you can eat to enhance this learning process.
Omega 3 fatty acids, such as fish oil, are well documented to lower inflammation and improve body composition (see Sparta Point 4/29/09), but new research continues to provide insight into the ability of these compounds to improve cognitive performance and learning. The omega 3 fatty acid docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) makes up more than 30% of plasma membranes in the brain, providing much needed fluidity. This membrane benefit to the cells in our brain allows the neurons (i.e. nervous system cells) to respond sooner to start and adjust movement. DHA is also critical for the function of synapses, the connection from one neuron to the next, increasing the speed of transmission, like a faster internet connection.
A 2009 Study out of the University of Siena in Italy was the first of its kind, generating more practical results from the above hypothesis. The authors found 18 Karate athletes significantly improved their reaction time after 21 days of Omega 3 supplementation. The reaction time was faster due to a shorter time between nervous system initiation and muscle contraction. If only we knew of a substance that could improve connection speed from one synapse to another….
The study used 2.25 grams of fish oil, 1.2 grams of EPA and .6 grams of DHA. However, as with all supplements, purity is the key. We use Nordic Naturals because they only produce fish oil, allowing them to be the best at what they do, providing assurance of the highest purity for our pro athletes.
So combine that exercise program with some DHA as your muscles aren’t the only part of your body that need fuel.