As we advance in years, some of our brain cells lose the ability to utilize glucose, which is the main energy source needed by the brain to function properly. Cognitive degeneration starts years before a diagnosis is made, so it is of great importance that you cover all preventive options in order to maintain the integrity of your brain cells.
The main component of our brain cells is saturated fat, so it should be no great shock that this perfect nutrient is an essential building block for our brain cells. Studies from the Advances in Nutrition Journal show that individuals consuming high levels of saturated fats experienced a 36% reduction in risk for developing dementia. Sources of saturated fat include coconut oil; grass-fed and finished dairy and meat; pastured poultry; and forage-fed pork.
Polyunsaturated Fat (Omega 3 Fatty Acid)
We’ve all heard of the many benefits of consuming omega 3s, and for good reason. Docosahexaenoic Acid (DHA) is a fatty acid that is found in our brains, retinas, and hearts, and is absolutely critical for efficient operation of neural and cardiac function. According to the University of Maryland Medical Center, there is a large connection between low DHA levels and decreased cognitive function in older adults, as well as Alzheimer’s patients. They keep our brain cells flexible, which allows the embedded proteins within the cells freedom to change in shape. Good sources of omega 3s include wild caught salmon; sardines; grass-fed and finished meats; pasture-raised poultry; and forage-fed pork. Plant-based sources of omega 3, such as chia seeds, flax, and hemp are all high in ALA; your body can convert ALA into EPA and DHA, but only in very small amounts.
Medium Chain Triglycerides (MTCs)
Who hasn’t been hearing about all the health promoting benefits of coconut oil? MTCs are one of the big reasons the coconut oil craze is so widespread: coconut oil contains all four MTCs. The four MTCs are: caproic fatty acids (C6), caprylic fatty acids (C8), capric fatty acids (C10), and lauric fatty acids (C12). When we eat coconut oil, because of these MCTs our liver produces ketones, which are by-products of the breakdown of fat in the body. Ketones have been shown to improve brain function in people with mild to moderate cognitive impairment by providing an additional energy source for the brain. Animal studies from the University of Oxford’s Cardiac Metabolism Research Group have shown improvements in brain cell function, reduced Alzheimer’s-like pathology, and enhanced learning in older animals.
According to PubMed, “Lowering cholesterol levels may impair brain function, since cholesterol is essential for synapse formation and maturation and plays an important role in the regulation of signal transduction through its function as a component of the cell membrane.” As I mentioned earlier, 25% of the brain is made up of cholesterol; it acts as an antioxidant, it is a vital component in preserving the integrity of membrane function, and it is the raw material from which we our bodies are able to make hormones and nutrients like progesterone, estrogen, cortisol, testosterone and Vitamin D.
Now that you know the amazing cognitive benefits you can gain from including these important fats in your diets, go to your local farmer’s market and buy some grass-fed meats and dairy. Do yourself a big favor and pick up some cold-pressed, unrefined extra virgin coconut oil: you can’t go wrong!
What are you favorite sources of healthy fats? How do you incorporate these building blocks into your diet and exercise program?Article Source:
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