Why it's Good to be Called a Fat-Head
Remember that insult some kids threw around?
Well maybe it’s good to be a fat-head.
At least if it is the right kind of fat!
The human brain is about 60 percent fat. In recent years we have learned that fatty acids are among the most crucial molecules that determine your brains integrity and ability to perform.
Essential FA are “essential” for maintenance of optimal health and we have to get them from the food that we eat.
But do you ever feel that you almost need a degree in biochemistry to be able to figure it all out? Trans fats, saturated fats, polyunsaturated fats, omega fats: omega 3’s and 6’s, fish oil, EPA, DHA, ALA, GLA …..
Here is some STRAIGHT INFO:
1. trans fats are not natural and act as toxins in the body
2. essential fats are…well essential and must be from the diet
3. we get too may essential omega3’s - leads to heart problems, heart attack and bad cholesterol
4. we don’t get enough essential omega6’s - crucial for healthy brain cells…actually ALL cells!
OK. Here is the “cliff notes” version of where fats go.
There are many types of cells in the brain and how they use the fats in their membrane (outer layers) is about the same. A lot of the magic (biochemistry) of a cell happens at the cell membrane. In fact the membrane is constantly shifting and transforming itself. It actually looks like a fat molecule sandwich.
A nice fluid, pliable cell is an adaptable cell & can change quickly to do it’s job well.
So this is where all of the recent publicity about trans-fats starts to make sense! Trans-fat rarely occurs in nature. Food processors make trans-fats because they help prolong the shelf life of fried, baked and other foods.
Trans fats make a rigid cell membrane that can’t perform all the functions optimally and is not structurally sound (can get ‘leaky’.)
We cannot break trans-fats down well once they get into our bodies…….we call that a toxin! Studies show that trans fats can cause abnormal heart rhythms, make your cholesterol numbers worse and even cause heart attacks!!
OK, so we get it! We need unsaturated fat. It still has to be the right kind.(Shall we talk about PUFA’s here? Nah, let’s save that fun for another day!)
Anyway……….Meat: bad. Fish: good?
Not so simple.
LA (linoleic acid) is an essential omega-6 and a building block to regulate blood pressure and inflammation (prostaglandins, for my fellow nerds.)
-Too many omega-6’s in our diet are associated with arthritis, cancer and inflammation.
Alpha-linolenic acid (ALA) is an essential omega-3 fat. It can be converted to EPA and DHA. In reality, this just doesn’t happen very well or in sufficient quantities.
1.we do not eat enough ALA to convert to enough EPA/DHA
2.when we eat excess omega-6, we convert even LESS into EPA/DHA.
Not all fish are excellent sources of EPA/DHA. The fatty fish like salmon, mackerel, sardines are good. They have a lot of oil, but not all of it is EPA and DHA. And farmed fish?...often fed GRAINS!
If you are taking a supplement, always look at the amount of milligrams of each of the two oils….you may be surprised to find that it does not add up to the amount of “fish oil” advertised on the label!
Any other advice?
Algae is a source of DHA. Keep your omega-6 to a minimum. …Actually some good advice for all of us, along with eating wild, caught salmon, mackerel or herring at least twice a week.
If the goal is optimal, get your levels tested! Even those of us that think they are eating right and supplementing enough, can be surprised when we see our numbers!
Low levels are implicated in cognitive decline in the aging brain, Alzheimer’s and some forms of dementia.
Get a fabulous Fat Head!