A healthy brain is key to making healthy choices. The brain needs good blood flow, and inflammation can decrease blood flow and increase the risk of disease, including memory loss and dementia. Diet plays a key role in reducing or increasing inflammation.
Healthy fats build healthy brains. Our brains are 60% fat. Bad fats increase “brainflammation,” and good fats decrease “brainflammation”. Inflammatory fats cause plaque to be formed in our arteries, decreasing blood flow to the brain. Plaque can also form in the brain as a result of inflammation. This can set the stage for memory loss, anxiety, depression, ADD, etc.
Many studies show the benefit of a diet rich in omega-3 essential fatty acids, including a decreased risk of dementia, stroke, Alzheimer’s, and memory loss. Those with ADD and depression are often found to have low levels of omega-3 fatty acids. Conversely, diets rich in these healthy fats tend to improve mood and emotional well being.
Eating one or two servings of wild-caught fish per week can help improve your omega-3 levels. Farm-raised fish contain less omega-3 fats than wild-caught. You might also consider taking a fish oil supplement that is certified mercury free.
Other sources of foods rich in omega-3 fats include flax seeds, flax oil, walnuts, pecans, pine nuts, macadamia nuts, pistachios, chia and hemp seeds, egg yolks (from pastured chickens), avocados, spinach, winter squash, Brussels sprouts, cauliflower, kale, broccoli, and organic edamame (soybeans). Add a handful of raw nuts and seeds to your daily diet, and eat two or more servings of vegetables at each meal.
The worst inflammatory fats are man-made fats known as “trans-fats”. These include “hydrogenated” and partially-hydrogenated” oils, margarine, shortening, and even refined vegetable oils that have been overly processed. These are the kinds of fats found in most packaged foods and used in fast-food restaurants. Always read the ingredients, because a product can contain up to half a gram of trans-fat and legally claim to have no trans-fat. It all adds up!
Omega-6 fatty acids can increase inflammation. The American diet is loaded with omega-6 foods. Corn oil, safflower oil, and soybean oil all contain omega-6 fatty acids and are found in most packaged foods like chips, crackers, baked goods, and frozen foods. Animal protein also contains omega-6 fats. Eat twice as many vegetables as meat to help reduce inflammation. Replace unhealthy fats with healthy ones.
Keep learning to be healthy!
Lisa Hernandez, Certified Nutritionist & Health Coach
1 Corinthians 10:31–“Whatever you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do it all for God’s glory!”
www.learningtobehealthy.com (Free download: 10 Simple Steps to a Leaner, Healthier You!)
www.facebook.com/groups/learningtobehealthywithlisa (Connect with other health-minded people)
www.learningtobehealthy.mynsp.com (Nature’s Sunshine)
This information is for educational purposes only and is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent disease. It does not take the place of any medical care that you may need. Consult your health care provider about making dietary and lifestyle changes that are right for you.