Fish oil, which contains omega-3 fatty acids, strengthens brain functions and has anti-inflammatory effects in the body. According to a study, athletes and soldiers can cope better with intensive training.
Low levels of fish oil in the blood, as well as a lack of physical activity, can lead to a high level of depression in soldiers returning from combat, according to the study.
The fish oil content is particularly important for soldiers because of the consistent training and physical regiments in and out of combat, as well as the risk of traumatic brain injury.
For the study, published in the journal Military Medicine, researchers worked with 100 soldiers to find out what factors influenced the mood of those who returned from combat.
“We investigated how physical activity and performance measurements are related to mood and resilience. What we found was decreases in physical activity and levels of fish oil and omega-3s in the blood, all of which were linked to resilience and mood, ”said Richard Kreider, a researcher at Texas A and M University.
The study arose from research that looked at the omega-3 fatty acid levels of soldiers who had committed suicide compared to non-suicide control, and associated lower omega-3 levels in the blood with an increased risk for the suicide group .
According to the researchers, these results are important in addressing some of the problems many soldiers face.
“Soldier mental health is a serious concern, and it is exciting to consider that adequate diet and exercise can have a direct impact on improving resilience,” said Nicholas Barringer, researcher at Texas A and M University.
In order to be able to properly measure soldiers physically, Kreider and Barringer developed a formula that has the potential to effectively screen soldiers with potential post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) in advance.
The formula measures a number of factors including fitness and psychometric ratings, physical activity, and additional analysis.
“By improving the resilience of service members, we may be able to reduce the risk of mental health problems. Early identification can potentially reduce the risk of negative outcomes for our active service members as well as our separated and retired military veterans, ”added Barringer.
“The military uses some of our sports, nutrition and performance-related work. The results can help identify soldiers who are at risk of depression when they return from combat tours,” added Kreider.
The study noted that by identifying such high-risk problems for soldiers, a precedent can be set that will benefit not only military leadership but the public as well.