Dietary fat and your brain

‘Fat’ a slimmer’s worst nightmare, right? Well, as it turns out, wrong, as studies have now revealed that there are some fats out there, that are not only beneficial for people trying to lose weight, but perhaps more importantly, this research has also shown that there are fats that we medically need for health purposes. Despite this, there are still people who will avoid all forms of fat at all costs, and as you might expect, they are paying the price via their health and fitness. What’s more, it isn’t just their physical health that is suffering due to a lack of healthy fats, it is actually their mental health that is paying the biggest price, as dietary fat and the human brain have been proven, time and time again, to work in synergy with one another. A lot of the time, people will avoid fat when trying to lose weight, when ironically, consuming fat could help them to speed up their weight loss, providing they got their fats from the right sources. When talking about healthy fats, you’ve probably heard people talking about ‘essential’ fatty acids. These fatty acids aren’t referred to as being essential just to try and sound catchy, they are known as essential fatty acids because they are essential for the human body, yet it cannot synthesize them itself, so it needs them from dietary forms. What’s more, there is actually no essential carbohydrates, so although the body does use them for energy, generally speaking, it doesn’t need them in the same way as it needs fat.


Paleo diets and healthy fats

Although the paleo diet is technically not a low carbohydrate diet, the vast majority of foods and drinks that you consume on this diet protocol, are in fact naturally low in carbohydrates. The paleo diet consists of a great deal of meats, nuts, seeds, vegetables, and healthy fats, with the inclusion of some fruits, and as you can see, most of those items are naturally low in carbohydrates, even some of the vegetables. Many of the healthy fats that you consume on the paleo diet, are incredibly beneficial for the human body, especially the brain, which improves greatly when it is nourished with healthy fats.

The brain and healthy fats

The human brain technically runs off of glucose, which is produced when the body breaks down carbohydrates, and converts them into glucose sugars. However, the body only runs this way because it is easier to break down carbohydrates and convert them into glucose, than it is to fuel the body via dietary fat. However, just because something is easier, that doesn’t necessarily make it better or more efficient. You see, the human brain is made up of around 60% fat as well as healthy cholesterol, so it actually runs extremely well off of ketone bodies, which the body produces when it enters a ketogenic state, when carbohydrates are not present. As the brain is made up of a great deal of fat, as you might expect, it requires fat in order to function at its most efficient. Without fats, especially healthy fats, the human brain simply cannot function properly, which can then lead to a whole host of other serious health conditions. Without healthy fats, the human body and brain is affected in the following ways:

  • No energy
  • Dry hair
  • Dry and flaky skin
  • Poor memory
  • Impaired cognitive function
  • Reduced metabolic rate
  • Stress, anxiety, depression
  • Unhealthy food cravings
  • Poor decisions
  • Impaired mental judgement
  • Lethargy
  • And more…

How do healthy fats benefit the brain?

So, by now you’ve probably realised that diets low in healthy fats are not healthy and are not beneficial in the slightest, especially when it comes to the brain and your mental health and well-being. But how exactly do healthy fats benefit the brain? Well, as mentioned, as the brain is made up of more than 60% fat, naturally, as you might expect, it needs fat in order to function correctly. For example, there are many vitamins and minerals out there, that are not water soluble, and are instead fat soluble, which means they can only be digested and broken down in the presence of dietary fats. This means that if fats are not present, these vitamins cannot be broken down and absorbed, so they will basically be going to waste. Vitamins A, D, K, and E, for example, are all fat soluble and they all play vital roles in our health and well-being, especially as far as the brain is concerned. Vitamin D for example, has been found to provide substantial levels of protection against degenerative diseases such as Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s disease. What’s more, omega 3 essential fatty acids have also been found to enhance a person’s cognitive function and enhance their mood, so conditions such as stress, anxiety, and depression can all be avoided.

What are some of the best sources of healthy fats?

So, we know that there are many fat sources out there that are healthy, and indeed, we know why they’re so beneficial, especially for the human brain, but what are some of the best sources of healthy fats currently available? Well, if you were to follow a paleo-friendly diet plan, some of the best sources of healthy fats you could consume would include the following:

  • Grass-fed red meat
  • Grass-fed butter
  • Salmon, mackerel, anchovies, trout, and other oily fish
  • Avocados
  • Avocado oil
  • Nuts (except peanuts)
  • Nut butters (except peanut butters)
  • Olive oil
  • Coconut
  • Coconut oil
  • Whole organic eggs

If you are interested in the paleo diet take a look, you can find many healthy paleo recipes, healthy eating tips, workout plans, exercise tips and much more! Discover the health benefits of following a paleo lifestyle and learn how to live happier, eat healthier, and train smarter.

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