Fats get a bad rap.
There is a common conception that if the fat content is high then it is automatically bad.
We dispelled this myth in the article “Fat Doesn’t Make You Fat“.
Today we will look at things from a different perspective and demonstrate how you can benefit physically and MENTALLY by eating more fat.
More people will die in the future of mental health than of cardiovascular disease, one of the bi-products of living longer lives, our brains wear out before our hearts and lungs. Today I will give you some pointers to help keep your brain healthy.
There are four different types of fats. All of which have specific functions and affect our body in a different way:
- Saturated fats – You get saturated fats from foods such as meat, dairy and products such as coconut oil. Saturated fats are labelled as one of the bad fats but it does have positive uses which I will discuss later on in the article.
- Monounsaturated fats – You will find these mostly in foods such as avocados, peanuts and olive oil.
- Polyunsaturated fats – These fats give you the essential fatty acids we need, omega 3 and omega 6. The best sources of omega 3 fatty acids come from oily fish and grass fed meat. For omega 6 meat, eggs and seeds are the best sources.
- Trans fats – Last but not least is trans fats, this is, like saturated fats labelled a bad fat but this time there is no dispute. Trans fats do naturally occur in small quantities in meat and dairy, but most of the time trans fats are artificially created. You will find the highest source of trans fats come from cheap processed foods.
I want to give you a bit more information on saturated fats.
Are they good or are they bad?
They are not as bad as we first thought. For a long time saturated fat has been linked directly to heart disease but recently we have been starting to ask are saturated fats really that bad?
There is a level of saturated fat contained in every type of fatty food, it’s been argued, why would nature create a food containing something which is trying to make you healthier alongside something which is trying to kill you? It doesn’t really make sense!
I believe there are no good or bad fats, the most important thing is that it’s natural and cleanly sourced. I believe all natural fats are good for us in the right amounts, including saturated fat.
The truth is we can’t live without fat, there is no way we would be able to function.
Our brain is made up of at least 60% fat (Dr Mercola). Our cell membranes are made up mostly from fat(70%), considering we are an organism of cells (75 Trillion+) our cell membrane health is of vital importance.
How Fat Helps Your Brain
This week I want to talk more about the link between fat and our brain, as I mentioned our brain is made of 60% fat and without the consumption of fats then we struggle to function mentally. When you eat fat, it is then digested and broken down into fatty acid molecules differing in length, your brain then uses these materials to form special types of fat which it incorporates into its cell membranes.
The specialised brain cells that communicate with each other, which are essential to cognitive function are known as neurons (see picture), these are composed with a thin double layer of fatty acids.
The neurons are covered by a protective sheath known as myelin. Myelin is composed of 30% protein and 70% fat! A big part of myelin comes from oleic acid which is one of the most abundant fatty acids found in our body. You can get monounsaturated oleic acid from sources including almonds, pecans, avocados and macadamias.
In order to protect, repair, build and get the most from these brain cells you need two fatty acids, these fatty acids must come from food as the body is unable to create them for itself.
The two fatty acids are Alpha-linolenic acid (ALA) and Linoleic acid (LA). ALA comes from the omega 3 fatty acid type whereas LA is from the omega 6 type.
You are able to get ALA fatty acids from foods such as salmon, sardines, mackerel, walnuts, flax seeds and green leafy vegetables. This is why some people call fish “brain food”!
The best source of LA fatty acids come from oils, flaxseed and canola oil are good sources.
Another vital source of fatty acids for our bodies and one many people in the UK MISS OUT – OFFAL.
Yes offal, internal organ meat, it’s gone out of fashion in recent years. Offal contains high levels of phospholipids. Phospholipids are fatty acids and are found in every cell throughout the body.
I don’t eat offal myself as I can’t get any which is organic, if you eat offal from poor sources, especially liver, it can be highly toxic as that’s where the animal stores all its toxins so I supplement with Super Brain Talk. It’s been life changing for my wife and I.
All these foods will allow your brain to absorb and process information more effectively and efficiently and give you better clarity and concentration.
How Trans Fats Effect Our Brain
Trans fats have a very different effect on our brain compared to the other fats I have mentioned.
Trans fats are made in the lab not by nature which means that our body is not used to and cannot cope with regular consumption of these. Trans fatty foods such as chips, margarine, biscuits and crisps which contain hydrogenated oils disrupt communication in your brain.
THEY DO THE EXACT OPPOSITE OF THE GOOD FATS.
By constantly eating these types of food we are weakening our own brain, as well as all of the other negatives associated with eating these types of foods. The trans fatty acids get into the brain through cell membranes and cause cellular degeneration as well as reduced mental performance.
Our brain cells function by having a certain degree of flexibility which allows them to maintain a balance alongside different fatty acids in our cell membranes. The size and shape of fatty acid molecule gives the brain cell membrane structure and flexibility.
Guess which fatty acids can’t fit in the membrane?
That’s right! Trans fats.
As I mentioned these are unnatural products which were are not suited to be placed in our own brains cell membrane. Unlike normal fatty acids which have a natural curve in their molecular shape trans fats are straight and narrow. This means that the fats will pack together too tightly in the cell membrane making it more rigid which reduces its ability to function. (multiply by 75 Trillion, the amount of cells you have in your body)
It is only in fairly recent times are we starting to realise what damage these so called ‘convenient products’ do to our bodies, in my opinion there is nothing convenient about reduced brain function!
In order to maintain a well functioning brain then a diet containing many Omega-3s and Omega-6s is crucial.
So stock up on good quality meat, eggs, nuts, green leafy vegetables, offal, super brain talk, and fish/fish oil and you will allow your brain the freedom to function as wonderfully as it is able to.
As always your comments are welcomed below.
What is fat? Good Health