Somefin Smells Fishy In Here! (How Fish Oil Makes Us Smarter) Part 1 : Wow in the World What in the World is that fishy smell coming from Guy Raz's refrigerator? And how in the world could it's contents help us to learn and sleep better? And who in the world was the first to discover this? Join Mindy Thomas and Guy Raz for the latest Who, What, When, Where, Why, How, and Wow in the World of Fintastic Fish Oil!
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Somefin Smells Fishy In Here! (How Fish Oil Makes Us Smarter) Part 1

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Somefin Smells Fishy In Here! (How Fish Oil Makes Us Smarter) Part 1

Somefin Smells Fishy In Here! (How Fish Oil Makes Us Smarter) Part 1

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  • <iframe src="" width="100%" height="290" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" title="NPR embedded audio player">
  • Transcript


Psst. Hey, wowzers. Mindy here. Before we start the show, just a little reminder that our Teachers That WOW Contest is still going on through this Friday, May 18. If you've got an amazing teacher that wows your world in a big way, then share it with us. One winning wowzer will receive a virtual classroom visit from Guy Raz and me in the form of a video call. Grown-ups, for more details on how to enter, visit That's That's it. Now let's get on with the show.


UNIDENTIFIED PERSON #1: Stay seated. Three, two, one, ignition.

UNIDENTIFIED PERSON #2: Get ready for an adventure of magnificent proportions.

THE POP UPS: (Singing) I don't know what you've been told, but we're in a golden age - so many discoveries that are jumping off the page. Wow in the world. Wow in the world. Wow in the world. Wow in the world. Wow in the world. Wow in the world. Wow in the world. Wow in the world. Wow in the world.

UNIDENTIFIED PERSON #3: With Guy and Mindy.

UNIDENTIFIED PERSON #1: We're on our way, Houston.



THOMAS: Guy Raz? Guy Raz, are you in there? I wonder why he's not answering the door. Guy Raz? Guy Raz, it's me, Mindy. Maybe I'll just allow myself in. (Whispering) Hey, Guy Raz.

RAZ: (Snoring).

THOMAS: (Whispering) Guy Raz.

RAZ: Energy equals mass times the speed of light. (Snoring).

THOMAS: (Whispering) Guy Raz, are you sleep talking?

RAZ: Yes, professor. If we subtract the square root of 92.155 and then...

THOMAS: Oh, boy. Well, doesn't seem like he's going to wake up anytime soon. I guess I'll just help myself to a snack from the old refrigerator. (Gagging). I know he's into some weird foods, but why is this refrigerator full of stinky fish? Maybe I don't need a snack after all.


RAZ: Coming, coming, coming. (Yelling) Four alarm fire. Get to the trucks. Get to the trucks. I'm coming.

THOMAS: Oh, butter my biscuits. Guy Raz, it's just your alarm clock ringing.

RAZ: (Yelling) Hey, chief, I'll be in the firetruck ASAP.

THOMAS: What in the - (yelling) Guy Raz.

RAZ: Whoa. Wait.

THOMAS: Come on. It's me, your best friend Mindy.

RAZ: Wait. Mindy? What's happening?

THOMAS: Man, you were out. Must have been some crazy deep sleep.

RAZ: Sleep?

THOMAS: Yeah. I just came over here to have breakfast like we planned. And I found you talking in your sleep but out like a light.

RAZ: Oh, man, Mindy. The last thing I remember from last night was eating a big plate of fish...


RAZ: ...Then brushing my teeth, then flossing, then rinsing with mouthwash...


RAZ: ...Then doing some breathing exercises, then practicing gratitude, then pulling down the blackout shades...


RAZ: ...Then climbing into my soft, warm bed, then...

THOMAS: OK. I get it. You take bedtime really seriously.

RAZ: Well, last night, once my head hit the pillow, I was out. And boy did I sleep well, Mindy, which reminds me it's breakfast time.

THOMAS: (Gasping) Did you say breakfast?

RAZ: You better believe it. And check out my new gadget, Mindy.

THOMAS: Wow, that's a cool cylinder, Guy Raz.

RAZ: OK. Watch this. OK, Zoodle (ph). Say breakfast in German.

UNIDENTIFIED VOICE: Breakfast in German.

RAZ: Huh. Hang on, Mindy. My Zoodle Home is acting up. OK, Zoodle. Tell me how to say breakfast in German.


THOMAS: Froosh-duke (ph), huh?

RAZ: OK, Zoodle. How about in French?


RAZ: How about in Spanish?


RAZ: How about in Arabic?

UNIDENTIFIED VOICE: Wajabat 'iiftar.

THOMAS: OK, Guy Raz. My grumbling belly could really go for some wajabat 'iiftar right now. So if you could just phakisa already...

RAZ: Phakisa?

THOMAS: Oh, yeah, phakisa. It means scoot your tush in Southern Sotho.

RAZ: Southern Sotho?

THOMAS: Yeah, Southern Sotho. It's a Southern Bantu language spoken mostly in South Africa and Lesotho.

RAZ: Wow. You speak Southern Sotho?

THOMAS: Not really, but Reggie and I have been taking some classes online.

RAZ: Wow.

THOMAS: Yeah. Our challenge is to work through all 11 of South Africa's official languages.

RAZ: Huh.

THOMAS: Anywho, how's about that fruhstuck you promised?

RAZ: Oh, yeah. Actually, Mindy, do I have a treat for you.

THOMAS: (Gasping) Banana chocolate chip pancakes topped with nitrous oxide-propelled sweetened whipped cream?

RAZ: No.

THOMAS: (Groaning) Well, are you at least making those cinnamon buns that burst out of the can that comes with that delicious, white frosting that melts off the top?

RAZ: Have you forgotten who you're talking to?

THOMAS: Oh, yeah. Well, I guess we're just having the us'?

RAZ: You mean tall glasses of room-temperature water, hard-boiled eggs, cashew cheese and some raw kale?

THOMAS: (Gagging).

RAZ: Well, not today, Mindy.

THOMAS: (Gasping) Does this mean we're having something new?

RAZ: Yeah. Today, Mindy, I'm making my new favorite breakfast specialty.

THOMAS: What is it?

RAZ: Here, let me show you in the fridge.

THOMAS: Oh, no. Don't do it. Don't do it. Don't do it. Don't do it. Don't do it.

RAZ: We're going to have a fish fiesta.

THOMAS: (Holding nose) Fish for breakfast? Guy Raz, who eats fish for breakfast?

RAZ: Well, actually, lots of people do. In Guyana, people eat white fish at breakfast. Traditional Japanese breakfast includes fish. Same in Indonesia. And in countries like Denmark, Norway, Russia and Germany, you can have a delicious plate of pickled herring with your eggs.

THOMAS: (Holding nose) I'll believe it when I see it.

RAZ: But even in America, Mindy, lots of people eat smoked salmon at breakfast. And in Alaska, people eat a lot of fresh salmon because they have some of the most delicious wild salmon in the whole, wide world.

THOMAS: So that's why you have a fridge full of salmon?

RAZ: Yup. I order it directly from a fisherman in Seward, Alaska. And, Mindy, it is delicious and nutritious and brain-tastically (ph) soporific.

THOMAS: Brain-tastic (ph)? Soporific? What?

RAZ: Well, technically, brain-tastic is a made-up word combining brain and fantastic. But soporific is a real word.

THOMAS: I think I got this figured out. Soporific. It's from the Latin root sopor, which means deep sleep. And things that are soporific help us sleep.

RAZ: Yup. So fish is both brain-tastic, as it can make you smarter. And it can also help you sleep better.

THOMAS: Hold the banana pepper phone, Guy Raz.

RAZ: Mindy...

THOMAS: Smarter and sleepier?

RAZ: Well, yeah. Here, here. Let me explain.

UNIDENTIFIED ACTOR #1: (As character, through speaker) Guy Raz, you are needed on set. Guy Raz, please report to set.

RAZ: Oh, man, Mindy. I almost forgot. I've got to get to the studio.

THOMAS: What? The studio? Guy Raz, what is going on?

RAZ: Oh, I didn't tell you, Mindy?

THOMAS: Tell me what?

RAZ: I just signed a five-episode deal with the Neanderthal Network to do a food show.

THOMAS: The Neanderthal Network?

RAZ: Yup. Only paleo, keto, whole 30 and SCD diets allowed. But, you know, hey, it's a gig, right?

THOMAS: Wait. You're doing a cooking show on TV?

RAZ: Well, technically, it's just a five-show deal. So we'll see how it goes. Come on. I'm late.

THOMAS: OK. I'm coming. But I'm still starving. Wait up. Run, run, run, run, run, run.

UNIDENTIFIED ACTOR #1: (As character, through speaker) Guy Raz has entered the building. Repeat - Guy Raz has entered the building.

RAZ: Just made it.

UNIDENTIFIED ACTOR #1: (As character, through speaker) Roll sound.

RAZ: OK, everyone. Quiet on set. And in three, two and one.

UNIDENTIFIED ACTOR #2: (As character) Welcome to Caveman Cooking. Here's your host, your bro, my bro, Guy Raz.

RAZ: Hey, cavepeople.


RAZ: What is up? You ready for some caveman nutrition?

UNIDENTIFIED ACTOR #3: (As audience member) I'm on a mission for nutrition.

RAZ: All right, friends. Today, I'm making some food that our hominid ancestors ate back in the caves.

UNIDENTIFIED ACTOR #4: (As audience member) Mancaves.

UNIDENTIFIED ACTOR #5: (As audience member) Woo.

UNIDENTIFIED ACTOR #4: (As audience member) Or hercaves (ph).

UNIDENTIFIED ACTOR #5: (As audience member) That's true.

RAZ: Let's start with the pan of our ancestors, cast iron. I'm going to throw this piece of salmon skin-side down in this hot pan and let her cook for 3 minutes until that skin is crispy.


RAZ: Then I'll flip it over and throw some coconut aminos, a little fish sauce, a drop of red chili paste. And voila, the menu of the ancient man and woman.


THOMAS: Excuse me. Pardon me. Nice forehead. I just need to get through here.

UNIDENTIFIED ACTOR #6: (As audience member) Come on, lady.

THOMAS: Sorry. That's my friend up there. Excuse me. Pardon me. Coming through. Guy Raz, a word?

RAZ: Mindy, I'm on live TV. What's going on?

THOMAS: Well, cavemen didn't cook on cast-iron pans and shake coconut aminos and Thai chili paste on their fish.

RAZ: Well, technically, that is true. But if they could have had those things, they would. Anyway, it's paleo cooking. Just go with it.

THOMAS: I don't know about this, Guy Raz.

RAZ: Are all you cavepeople ready for some fresh wild salmon?


UNIDENTIFIED ACTOR #7: (As audience member) Fishing for nutrition.

RAZ: Good for your brain and good for your sleep.

UNIDENTIFIED ACTOR #8: (As audience member) Sleep to the max. Oh, yeah.

RAZ: Well, friends, thanks for joining us this week. And see you next time.

UNIDENTIFIED ACTOR #2: (As character) Caveman Cooking is a Neanderthal Network production. When we return, Guy Raz jacks your macros with his caveman brownies and his coconut chia probiotic pudding. Don't miss it, you jabroni.

UNIDENTIFIED ACTOR #1: (As character, through speaker) And we're clear.

UNIDENTIFIED ACTOR #9: That's a wrap.

THOMAS: Wow. Guy Raz, I barely even recognized you up there. What got into you?

RAZ: Me? What do you mean?

THOMAS: Well, you were acting like a caveman, for one.

RAZ: Oh, might be the new diet.

THOMAS: Well, I got to say I didn't think I was a big fan of the fishy stuff. But I was able to swipe some of that salmon off the stage. And (with mouth full) boy howdy, stuff is delicious.

RAZ: Oh, thanks. Well, I'm happy to share the recipe.

THOMAS: Yeah. I think I'm going to have to give this fish for breakfast thing a second chance.

RAZ: Well, as I said, it is nutritious, delicious and brain-tastically soporific.

THOMAS: Yeah. Speaking of which, what exactly do you mean when you say that fish makes us smarter and better sleepers?

RAZ: Well, that's what a growing body of scientific research suggests.

THOMAS: You're saying that scientists have researched this and concluded that fish makes us smarter and sleep better?

RAZ: I know, right? I mean, it sounds like a big, wet fish kiss to the fish industry. But it's a real conclusion recently published in the journal Scientific Reports.

THOMAS: So what did the study find?

RAZ: Well, Mindy, a team of researchers from the University of Pennsylvania, including Jianghong Liu, Jennifer Pinto-Martin, Alexandra Hanlon and Adrian Raine, decided to put a long-known theory about omega-3s to the test.

THOMAS: Omega-3S. Hang on a second, Guy Raz. (Yelling) Zoodle, if you're out there, what exactly are omega-3s? Zoodle?

UNIDENTIFIED VOICE: Omega-3 - polyunsaturated fatty acid that is found in foods like chia seeds, grass-fed beef, shrimp and fish.

THOMAS: (Yelling) Thanks, Zoodle. You're the best.

So, Guy Raz, omega-3s - am I right?

RAZ: Yes, that's right. Omega-3s, which are, of course, invisible and generally tasteless to us humans, are special acids found in the oils of these foods. And it's believed that omega-3s are good for human health.

THOMAS: And that's the theory that these researchers from the University of Pennsylvania were trying to prove, right?

RAZ: Right. And for a long time, scientists have found links between omega-3s and human intelligence - and that maybe omega-3s can help our brains grow and develop, especially when we're young.

THOMAS: And so what did these researchers find?

RAZ: Well, this team from the University of Pennsylvania was interested in learning more because a lot of the earlier studies done by other scientists and researchers focused on people who take supplements.

THOMAS: You mean like fish oil? Like fish oil capsules?

RAZ: Yup. In fact, I take two every day.

THOMAS: So how did this team from Pennsylvania do their study?

RAZ: Well, they decided to find out if eating fish, not just taking fish oil pills, might also make a difference in brain health.

THOMAS: So they had people go hog wild on an all-you-can-eat fish buffet?


UNIDENTIFIED ACTOR #10: (As character) Where's all my snapper (ph)? It's gone. I'm still hungry.


RAZ: Well, sort of, yeah. What these researchers did was to study kids.

THOMAS: As in goats?

RAZ: No.

THOMAS: Kids as in young humans below the legal age of majority.

RAZ: Yeah. They studied a group of kids in China.

THOMAS: A bunch of kids in China.

RAZ: And to be precise, 541 kids in China aged 9 to 11 years old. And these researchers studied how much fish each of these kids ate every month.

THOMAS: And I'm guessing we're not talking about two-for-one fish fillet sandwiches from McDoodad's (ph), right?

RAZ: Yeah. That's probably a safe assumption. And I don't think fried fish and chips counted, either.

THOMAS: So probably like steamed fish or roasted fish or pan seared, kind of like how you cooked that salmon on your cooking show.

RAZ: Yeah, exactly. And then the researchers asked each of the 541 kids to take a test.

THOMAS: What? Fish in a test? What is this?

RAZ: Well, not like a test that counts but a test to find out how smart they were at that very moment, a test that measures something called IQ.

THOMAS: Or intelligence quotient. But I've always wondered - how can a test measure someone's intelligence?

RAZ: Well, you know, intelligence tests are controversial, meaning some people think they're a real measure of how smart someone is, and other people think they only measure how smart someone is at that very moment during the test.

THOMAS: Oh, yeah. So, like, if somebody was up the whole night before, inventing cheese coffee, or if maybe they had jelly beans for breakfast, they might not do as well as if they hadn't done these things?

RAZ: Exactly. And intelligence - or how smart we are - isn't something that's necessarily fixed because our brains grow and build new connections over the course of our lives.

THOMAS: And we build new connections in our brains by being...



RAZ: Yes. Curiosity is what fuels our brains, Mindy - by asking questions, by reading, by exploring. Those are the things that make us smarter.

THOMAS: Well, anywho, back to this fish test. When those researchers asked the kids in China to take the intelligence test, what did they find?

RAZ: Well, amazingly, Mindy, they found that kids who ate fish at least once a week scored better on the test. Actually, their IQ scores were almost five points higher than kids who never ate fish.

THOMAS: Whoa. So fish made them smarter?

RAZ: Well, it's not entirely clear. But that seems to be the case. In fact, kids who ate fish sometimes still had IQ scores that were three points higher than kids who never ate fish.

THOMAS: Yeah. But you said that before you went to bed last night, you ate a big plate of fish. So did you do that to get smarter?

RAZ: Well, I was experimenting for sure because these researchers from the University of Pennsylvania - they also found that kids who ate fish at least once a week slept a lot better than kids who didn't eat fish.

THOMAS: Oh. So now I'm starting to connect the dots. That's why you were in such a deep state of sleep when I came in earlier.

RAZ: Well, I can't say it was just the fish. But it's possible there is a connection with eating fish and sleeping well, too.

THOMAS: But how do fish make omega-3 polyunsaturated fatty acids anyway?

RAZ: You know, I'm not entirely sure. But I bet we could find out.

THOMAS: Oh, boy. I see that light bulb glowing on top of your head. Wait. Are you plugged into something?

RAZ: Well, if we really want to investigate, Mindy, we'll have to go, you know...

THOMAS: Something smells fishy about this plan you're hatching, Guy Raz.

RAZ: But it could help us understand the source of those omega-3s in fish. And all we have to do is shrink you down with your shrink wand and send you inside the belly of a fish.

THOMAS: Inside the belly of a fish? What? No way. Guy Raz, the last time you shrunk me down, I found myself in the middle of an onion, crying my eyeballs out.


THOMAS: (Crying in high-pitched voice).


RAZ: Well, this time, we'll make sure you're wearing your astronaut gear, you know, just in case.

THOMAS: (Groaning) This better be worth it, Guy Raz.

RAZ: Nothing to worry about, Mindy. It'll be fine, just fine.

THOMAS: We'll see about that. This time, Guy Raz, you're coming with me.

RAZ: OK. Well, I guess the first stop is your garage? Should we find Reggie?

THOMAS: (Yelling) Reggie.


THOMAS: Hey, Reg, we're going to need you to take us on our strangest adventure yet.


UNIDENTIFIED ACTOR #2: (As character) Adventure inside the belly of a nutritious, delicious and brain-tastic fish next time on Caveman - WOW IN THE WORLD.

UNIDENTIFIED CHILD #1: WOW IN THE WORLD will be right back. Grown-ups, this message is for you.


UNIDENTIFIED CHILD #1: That's it. Back to the show.


THE POP UPS: (Singing) Wow in the world.


THOMAS: Hi. Thanks for calling WOW IN THE WORLD. After the beep, get ready to record.


EMILY: Hi. My name is Emily (ph). I'm from Alexandria, Va., and I'm 7 years old. My wow in the world is that trees take carbon dioxide and make it into food and actually breathe out oxygen. Bye. I love your show.


ROWAN: Hi, Mindy and Guy Raz. It's Rowan (ph) from beautiful California. I am 11 years old. And my wow is this amazing fact that in China, more people speak English than in the United States. Wow. I love your show. Please keep up the good work. Thank you. Bye.


CHARLOTTE: Hi, Mindy and Guy Raz. I'm Charlotte (ph). And I'm from Lenexa, Kan. I'm 11 years old. And my wow in the world is that rainbows are an optical illusion. Bye, Mindy and Guy Raz. I love your show.


LEVITT: Hi, Mindy and Guy Raz. I'm Levitt (ph), and I'm from Parker, Colo. I'm 11 years old. And my wow in the world is that the air around a lightning strike is five times hotter than the sun. Isn't that incredible? I love your show, guys. Keep up the good work.


EVIE: Hi. My name is Evie (ph). And I'm 7 years old. I'm from San Clemente, Calif. And my wow in the world is that every time that flies land, they puke wherever they landed.


CHLOE: Hi. This is Chloe (ph) from Orleans, Mass. My wow is that bananas are a berry. Bye. I love your show.


CLAIRE: Hi. I'm Claire (ph), and I'm from Albany, N.Y. And My wow in the world is that if a starfish loses its arm, it can regrow a new one. Bye.


SEBASTIAN: Hi. Mindy and Guy Raz. My name is Sebastian (ph) from Washington, D.C. And I'm 8 years old. My wow is that falcons are the fastest flying bird. They can fly up to 242 miles per hour. Isn't that cool? Bye, guys. Love your show.


LOLA: Hi, Mindy and Guy Raz. I'm Lola Reege (ph) from Indio, Calif. And my wow in the world is the bunnies in our neighborhood. They just keep coming. Bye.


UNIDENTIFIED PERSON #4: End of messages.

THOMAS: Hey, everyone. Thank you so much for joining us this week on WOW IN THE WORLD.

RAZ: And if you want to keep the conversation going, check out some of the questions we've posted on this episode at our website

THOMAS: And grown-ups, there you can find more details on how your kids can become part of the World Organization of Wowzers. Lots of cool perks - exclusive T-shirts, autographed pictures of us and a bunch of other cool stuff -

RAZ: Our show is produced by Jed Anderson...

THOMAS: Say hello, Jed.


RAZ: ...With help from Thomas van Kalken, Chelsea Ursin and Jessica Bodie (ph). Meredith Halpern-Ranzer is the big boss.

THOMAS: Our theme song was composed and performed by The Pop Ups. You can find more of their awesome, all-ages music at

RAZ: And, parents and teachers, if you want to send us an email, our address is

THOMAS: Grown-ups, you can also find us on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram at @wowintheworld.

RAZ: And if you want to be featured at the end of the show, call us up and tell us your wow in the world.

THOMAS: Our phone number is 1-888-7-WOW-WOW. That's 1-888-7-WOW-WOW.

RAZ: And, parents, if you want to upload any photos or videos or messages to us, please visit and find a link where you can do just that.

THOMAS: And if you haven't already done so, please subscribe on Apple Podcasts or however you get your podcasts. Leave us a few stars and a review and be sure to tell a friend about the show. Until next time, keep on wowing.


THE POP UPS: (Singing) Wow in the world. Wow in the world. Wow in the world. Wow in the world. Wow in the world.

UNIDENTIFIED CHILD #2: WOW IN THE WORLD was made by Tinkercast and sent to you by NPR.

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