Brain Food


The brain needs food too! For your brain to function well it not only needs stimulation, it needs certain nutrients, and dementia and Alzheimer’s can be prevented. The brain is made up of fats and cholesterol, mainly saturated fat. A diet low in saturated fats deprives the brain of the building blocks in needs for proper repair and function. I have friends who won’t eat any fat, thinking that they are being healthy. Not only has it been proved that cardiovascular disease is not caused by saturated fat, the brain needs it to function and prevent dementia and Alzheimer’s disease. Your brain loves fat. Wants it, craves it, needs it.  After all, the brain is made up of more than 50% fat. However, the nervous system is a highly specialized mechanism, and can’t use just any rogue fat globule sent jiggling its way. When it comes to building the brain, the body needs a high concentration of omega-3 fatty acids from animal foods. Experts now postulate that a widespread disruption in omega-fatty acid balance may be at the very root of some of the most troublesome neurobiological epidemics of our day. Could it be that the devilishly delicious dark meats and creamy butter we have been taught to avoid actually contain the nutritional keys to improved health and a vibrant mood?

The term “omega-3s” is used to describe a specific group of long chain polyunsaturated fats that are essential for the proper function of the body. Important as metabolic catalysts and inflammation modulators, omega-3 fatty acids play an impressive number of roles in the body. Perhaps most importantly, humans require ample amounts of omega-3 fatty acids in order for the nervous system to function properly. These life-giving omega-3 compounds have several distinctive functions in the brain and nervous system, and are likely involved in many more complex pathways that are yet to be understood.

  • Omega-3s encourage cell membrane integrity and fluidity. Brain cells communicate by exchanging chemical neurotransmitters (such as serotonin and dopamine) as well as other compounds. For these interactions to occur, the cell membrane must be soft and flexible.
  • Omega-3s block the actions of inflammatory chemicals, protecting the brain from harmful toxins that can alter function and distort mood. 
  • Omega-3s are important in ensuring the healthy expression of genes. Research suggests that a deficiency in EPA/DHA in growth years, can predispose individuals to chronic illnesses such as Alzheimers, mood dysregulation and cognitive impairment.

Based on this list of functions, it is only logical to assume that an inadequate store of omega-3 fatty acids results in disruptive changes in cognition, behavior and mood. Many epidemiological and neurobiological studies have confirmed that a relative deficiency in omega-3 fatty acids predisposes people to psychological conditions such as depression, anxiety and bipolar disorder. Newer clinical studies have also demonstrated promise in the efficacy of omega-3 supplements to resolve the biochemical imbalances at the center of many mental health conditions.

A few tips for purchasing foods with omega-3’s:

Opt for wild seafood over farm-raised varieties and source from clean oceans.

Select pastured and grass fed meats. Look for words like grass-fed, pastured, organic and free-range. Find reputable family farms locally or use online sources.

Choose raw milk products and don’t be afraid of butter!

Incorporate a high quality fish oil. Avoid fish oil supplements that have been highly refined. Instead select a pure, small batch prepared form such such as krill oil.

Also limit consumption of omega-6 rich vegetable oils. These inflammation-causing oils will cancel out omega-3 consumption. Instead use healthy saturated fats such as coconut oil or raw butter.

Do your brain a favor and enjoy some fat!

Submitted by Tricia @ Nutrition by Tricia




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