by Glen Depke, Traditional Naturopath
What foods does your brain love?
Understanding that nearly 60% of your brain is made up of fat, it would make sense of getting more of them as a primary source of fuel.
This is not getting just any fat though…
The artificial trans fats are some of the most damaging fats for your brain and overall health, leading to factors associated with memory loss, depression and so many challenges in your body. Add in the fact that an over-consumption of fats like omega 6 fatty acids can actually work against your goals by fueling pro-inflammatory pathways. Unfortunately with all the vegetable oils in our standard American diet we are now getting a 20:1 ratio, or more, of omega 6 fatty acids to omega 3 fatty acids. This should be closer to a 3:1 ratio.
This is important to understand since these may be the reasons that your memory may not be as sharp as it used to be, among many other challenges.
So what fats are the key?
Your brain loves a variety of fats.
Some of the best fats associated with enhanced cognitive function are Medium Chain Fatty Acids, with many studies even hinting towards the prevention of neurodegenerative diseases like Dementia and Alzheimer’s Disease.
You can get more medium chain fatty acids by consuming coconut oil. There has even been some recent information available as a strong benefit of coconut oil for those diagnosed with ALS.
Another important “Brain Fat” are omega 3 fatty acids, specifically the super charged omega 3 docosahexaenoic acid (DHA). The DHA component of your omega 3 simply put, is brain food.
DHA has been found in your brain’s cell membranes and retina. The consumption of DHA has also been associated with a decreased risk of Alzheimer’s Disease in the early stages.
One of the more recent studies from the American Journal of Preventive Medicine found that people who regularly eat DHA and EPA rich fish have larger and healthier brains than those who don’t.
Many experts believe that DHA achieves its cognitive effects by limiting the impact of stress and enhancing the synaptic neuron connection in your brain. You have heard me mention many times in the past that stress has an accumulative effect on the brain and this absolutely needs to be addressed.
In a recent randomized, double-blind, placebo controlled study, elderly people with mild cognitive impairment received either DHA fish oil or placebo capsules. After a year, the fish oil group showed significant improvements in short-term working memory.
The next study is very interesting because medical students acted as test subjects.
In this recent double- blind study, coming from The Institute for Behavioral Medicine Research at Ohio State University, 68 healthy medical students were given EPA and DHA supplementation for 12 weeks. At the end of the study, supplementation with EPA and DHA showed a significant decrease in inflammatory markers and reduced symptoms of anxiety on the student’s test day.
These studies are just some of the impacts on why I take omega 3 fatty acids myself and why I recommend these to my clients. Actually every adrenal client I work with is recommend a EPA/DHA-CoQ10 liquid supplement.
If you’re struggling with memory loss, poor cognitive performance, or depression, take a good hard look at what you are using to fuel your brain. Is it the high omega 6 fatty acids in vegetable oils or the high omega 3’s in high quality fish, grass fed beef or a quality liquid omega 3 fatty acid supplement.?
Only you can answer this question…
Let’s not forget the medium chain fatty acid in coconut oil also.
If your fats are processed and pro-inflammatory, your brain will NOT like it, and your brain will let you know by being slow, unhappy, and not sharp enough when you most need it.
The point is to cut out the junk food and the foods that promote pro-inflammatory pathways and you can easily do this by reducing your omega 6 intake. That means moderation on the nuts and seeds and simply saying no to industrial and highly processed vegetable oils.
Simply put, give your brain the what it craves!
As mentioned above, I recommend the Pure Encapsulations liquid EPA/DHA-CoQ10 to my clients and take this myself. I always recommend liquid omega 3’s for two reasons. Number one, the liquids are much easier for your digestive system and allow for an ease of absorption and assimilation into your body. The second reason is tied into the importance of consuming a “fresh” omega 3 fatty acids. It has been brought to my attention that the gel caps of omega 3 fatty acids run to risk of actually being rancid and adding a rancid fat into your body is not a good idea. With the liquid, you would absolutely know if this was rancid because you would recognize a foul odor that you would not recognize if you were taking a gel cap.
Note that you can bite into your gel cap to see for yourself if your product is fresh or rancid. Trust me, you’ll know that difference.
The other benefit of the EPA/DHA-Coq10 liquid is the CoQ10 aspect. CoQ10 is a coenzyme that is the driving force behind every mitochondria, which is the little engine that drives every cell in your body. Sounds kind of important, huh?
If you have any comments or questions, feel free to post these below. I will respond personally.