The human brain has done so much of the evolution and advancement of the human race and has done so many things that created wars, destroyed civilizations. Honestly, you are at wonder how the brain made humans evolved from prehistoric homo erectus to the modern homo sapiens. The brain has taught us to build tools and made us learn how to catch animals and raise crops for food, build civilization, develop speech and different systems or writing to inventing the wheel that made the world mobile, to conquering the sea, air and land. The human brain had flown men to the moon, explored outer space and made new discoveries about the universe and our origins. The human brain has also made us stupid by producing shows like “Jersey Shore”, making the Kardashians role models and making wars just to protect and acquire natural resources like oil. No matter how you take it, the brain is endlessly fascinating and intrigued all of us and despite the huge efforts in understanding how the brain functions, there is still so much to be learned. Every day, new studies and researches are being published on the brain’s characteristics. One of the proven facts from these numerous studies are the brain’s need for fat. Yes, the brain requires fat to function normally.
Essential Fats and the Brain
Did you know that the brain is 60% fat? To function normally, the human brain needs to maintain this fat percentage, if the fat percentage goes down, it can lead to some neurological issues. Think of fats as brain food but you must understand the difference between the fats that are good for your brain and what fats can be harmful. You can think of the brain as the master gland or master blaster as a cooler way of branding it. The brain sends chemical messengers all throughout the body and tells each organ how to function. One specific group of chemical messenger is essential to this operation is called the prostaglandins. The prostaglandins initiate the body’s self-repair ability. The body needs two kinds of essential fats to produce healthy brain cells and prostaglandins. These fats are omega 6 fatty acids that are mostly found in oils from safflower, sunflower, sesame seeds and corn. The other essential fat is called omega-3 fatty acids that are found in flax seeds, nuts, pumpkin seeds, squid, krill, fish, berries and green leafy vegetables. The foods from which these oils can be extracted are generally the highest in essential fatty acids. It can also be taken in form of supplements like fish oil and krill oil. Why are they called fatty acids? They are called fatty acids because the human body cannot naturally produce them thus these fats are usually taken from the human diet or the food that we eat. Once ingested the body can now metabolize and use them for normal body functions.
Omega-3 and omega-6 are important for brain function because these fats are the primary structural components of the brain cell membranes and are also essential on the enzymes within the brain cell membranes that allows the membranes to send out valuable nutrients in and out and of these cells. If the human body is deprived of these fats, the body will try to cope with rebuilding replacement fatty acids that may be harmful. These replacement fatty acids are linked diets that are high in hydrogenated fats that contain high levels of omega-6. If there is an imbalance between omega-6 and omega-3, it can increase the risks of developing chronic diseases and mental issues. A higher level of omega-6 can result in developing these conditions because this essential fat is also known to have inflammatory properties. A diet enhanced with omega-3 on the other hand have a different effect on the body as it lowers the risks of developing chronic diseases and the risks of developing mental issues. Plus, omega-3 is known for its anti-inflammatory properties and possible even reversing the effects of excess trans-fat in the body.
Fats also have the ability to influence the development of the brain and its performance especially during the beginning and end of life of a person. There are two time windows where the brain is sensitive to nutrition, the first two years of a baby’s life and the last couple decades of a senior citizen. The ratio of the omega-6 to omega-3 should be 2:1, this is according to National Institute of Health.
Meeting the daily requirement omega-3 will boost brain power. Omega-3 and omega-6 should be in balance to maintain overall brain and body health, because too much of anything is not good.