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How Healthy Fats Can Change Your Brain And Make You Smarter

How Healthy Fats Can Change Your Brain And Make You Smarter

Let’s face it, fat has had a bad rap, much like eggs.

It’s good.

It’s bad.

Eat it.

Don’t eat it.

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But, the reality is, the human body needs good fat for a variety of functions including creating hormones, healthy pregnancy, storing energy, insulating the organs, and to act as messengers for protein.

Many of the vitamins your body needs require fat to be absorbed; you’ve heard of the fat soluble vitamins A, E, and K, for example.  Even better, plenty of healthy fats in your diet can help you lose excess weight and support a healthier lifestyle. Not to mention, when you add healthy fats to food and recipes it add flavor, nutritional density, and satiety.

With so many options out there, keep in mind as to what type of fat we’re talking about: healthy fats. Healthy fats include monounsaturated, polyunsaturated, and Omega-3s, in this case.

Wow, with some many important benefits of fat how can you not be excited knowing we haven’t reached the best part yet; which is that fat can help make you smarter!! Who doesn’t want to be smarter?!

Here are a few healthy reasons to add good fats into your diet.

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1.You can hold off Alzheimer’s

You’ve worked hard over the years, built memories, and cherished every moment of the life you lived; luckily, adding healthy fats into your diet can protect your brain against Alzheimers and dementia. Alzheimer’s affects millions of people, 5.4 million in American alone. However, there is good news, research is showing you can lower your risk through control of your diet.

According to a study published in the Journal of Neurochemistry, which compared the effects of monounsaturated fats and polyunsaturated fats. The group who ate a balanced diet with monounsaturated fats had a change in brain chemistry which improved cognitive abilities, slowed decline, improved their resiliency and decreased their risk of developing Alzheimer’s.

How do you get these benefits? By adding super healthy oils such as olive oil and canola oil to your diet. 

2.You can improve your memory

A diet high in monounsaturated fats such as those found in olive oil helps the neurotransmitter acetylcholine. Granted, it’s a mouthful of a word, but it’s important for memory. Without dumping a ton of medical jargon on you, which, aside from putting you to sleep, will only leave you confused, I’ll put it simply: Good fats increase acetylcholine and it depolarizes potential membranes, blocking adaption. In this case, blocking adaptation creates a stronger memory. Acetylcholine derived from good fats also blocks transmission in the hippocampus of the brain in order to prevent old memories from interfering with making new memories.

In short, acetylcholine is important for encoding and creating new memories, as a shortage of monounsaturated fats inhibits the body’s ability to create new memories. The clearer you’re able to remember new skills, ideas, and lessons the more you apply them to your life, making you smarter in your everyday activities. You can read more on the importance of acetylcholine in this article.

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3.You can improve your ability to learn

There is a lot of hype about Omega-3s lately, and fish oil has become a must in many American homes because of its reputation for producing healthy heart benefits. Of these, DHA is important for brain and learning, without it the structural and functional integrity of brain cells are compromised. Compromised cell functions equals compromised learning and retaining abilities.

The adage that we lose our cognitive abilities as we get older needs to be put to permanent rest, with proper diet and supplementation your cognitive abilities will stay sharp into your golden years.  With Omega-3s and DHA in your diet the body is provided the nutrients needed to create the neurotransmitters for cell/nerve communication and processing of new information. To read more about this, check out this article.

How do you add more Omega-3s and DHA to your diet? You can get them from flaxseed, walnuts, and, of course, a fish or krill oil supplement. If you’re using a supplement make sure it’s a pharmaceutical grade fish oil and one which uses wild caught fish to help prevent the risk of mercury.

4.Your digestive tract can get better, making you smarter

The connection between the digestive tract and brain is still relatively new, but new studies are showing how your gut health and your thinking abilities are tightly interconnected. Researchers are starting to see how good digestive health is directly related to good brain health, and how healthy fats are related to both.

Omega-3s are one of the strongest anti-inflammatory fatty acids available to the human body, and they are also ones readily available in many of our foods, especially wild caught fish. New research is showing what you put in your body directly affects mental/emotional disorders, and if you eat a healthy diet, including the varieties of fat your body needs, your gut can begin to heal and the brain begins to function better.

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More good news on top of that– as your gut heals and your body receives the nutrition it needs your energy can come up with more energy and an enhanced ability to focus. Sharper concentration equals increased learning and retention.

Want to learn more about the research on gut health and brain health, then check out Dr. Perlmutter’s book, it’s full of up-to-date information on the brain and your gut.

There are a wide variety of healthy fats out there, so a complete listing would be an entirely different post. There are many ways to add them into your daily diet. The goal to remember when it comes to high fat foods is to do it mindfully and in moderation. Eating steak deep fried in coconut oil and avocados everyday for every meal would leave you without vital nutrients. Get my drift?

Ensuring your brain has enough of the nutrients and fatty acids needed to function at optimal performance is going to be different for each individual. However, one thing is for sure, your brain is over 60% fat, and needs high quality fats to function. Just like your muscles need protein to rebuild, your brain needs fat to stay working at peak performance. Introducing healthy fats into your diet is a great way to ensure you’ll keep your brain and memory sharp for whatever adventure you may pursue.

And, as a way to help get you started with adding some good fats into your diet, here is a great article from the Huffington Post about six high fat foods you should be eating, and ways to get them into your diet so you can experience all the great benefits listed above.

Already have delicious high fat good foods in your diet? What are some of your favorite ways to incorporate them into your meals?

Do you have a healthy fat lifestyle already? I’d love to hear about it and how it makes you feel.

More by this author

Jenna Anderson

Jenna is passionate in helping people find their personal power through movement and healthy life style choices.

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Last Updated on July 10, 2020

How to Take Control of Your Life with Better Boundaries

How to Take Control of Your Life with Better Boundaries

We all have them—those hurtful, frustrating, offensive, manipulative people in our lives. No matter how hard we try to surround ourselves with positive and kind people, there will always be those who will disrespect, insult, berate, and misuse you if we allow them to.

We may, for a variety of reasons, not be able to avoid them, but we can determine how we interact with them and how we allow them to interact with us.

So, how to take control of your life and stop being pushed around?

Learning to set clear firm boundaries with the people in our lives at work and in our personal lives is the best way to protect ourselves from the negative effects of this kind of behavior.

What Boundaries Are (And What They’re Not)

Boundaries are limits

—they are not threats or ultimatums. Boundaries inform or teach. They are not a form of punishment.

Boundaries are firm lines—determined by you—which cannot be crossed by those around you. They are guidelines for how you will allow others to treat you and what kind of behaviors you will expect.

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Healthy personal boundaries help protect you from physical or emotional pain. You may also need to set firm boundaries at work to ensure you and your time are not disrespected. Don’t allow others to take advantage of your kindness and generosity.

Clear boundaries communicate to others that you demand respect and consideration—that you are willing to stand up for yourself and that you will not be a doormat for anyone. They are a “no trespassing” sign that makes it very clear when a line has been crossed and that there will be consequences for doing so.

Boundaries are not set with the intention of changing other people. They may change how people interact with you, but they are more about enforcing your needs than attempting to change the general behavior and attitude of others.

How to Establish Boundaries and Take Control of Your Life

Here are some ways that you can establish boundaries and take control of your life.

1. Self-Awareness Comes First

Before you can establish boundaries with others, you first need to understand what your needs are.

You are entitled to respect. You have the right to protect yourself from inappropriate or offensive behavior. Setting boundaries is a way of honoring your needs.

To set appropriate boundaries, you need to be clear about what healthy behaviors look like—what healthy relationships look like.

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You first have to become more aware of your feelings and honest with yourself about your expectations and what you feel is appropriate behavior:

  • Where do you need to establish better boundaries?
  • When do you feel disrespected?
  • When do you feel violated, frustrated, or angered by the behavior of others?
  • In what situations do you feel you are being mistreated or taken advantage of?
  • When do you want to be alone?
  • How much space do you need?

You need to honor your own needs and boundaries before you can expect others to honor them. This allows you to take control of your life.

2. Clear Communication Is Essential

Inform others clearly and directly what your expectations are. It is essential to have clear communication if you want others to respect your boundaries. Explain in an honest and respectful tone what you find offensive or unacceptable.

Many people simply aren’t aware that they are behaving inappropriately. They may never have been taught proper manners or consideration for others.

3. Be Specific but Don’t Blame

Taking a blaming or punishing attitude automatically puts people on the defensive. People will not listen when they feel attacked. It’s part of human nature.

That said, you do not need to overexplain or defend yourself. Boundaries are not open to compromise.

Sample language:

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  • “You may not…yell or raise your voice to me…”
  • “I need…to be treated with respect…”
  • “It’s not okay when…you take things from my desk without asking…”
  • “I won’t…do your work…cover for you anymore…”
  • “It’s not acceptable when…you ridicule or insult me…”
  • “I am uncomfortable when…you use offensive language”
  • “I will no longer be able to…lend you money…”

Being able to communicate these without sounding accusatory is essential if you want others to respect your boundaries so you can take control of your life.

4. Consequences Are Often Necessary

Determine what the appropriate consequences will be when boundaries are crossed. If it’s appropriate, be clear about those consequences upfront when communicating those boundaries to others.

Follow through. People won’t respect your boundaries if you don’t enforce them.

Standing our ground and forcing consequences doesn’t come easily to us. We want to be nice. We want people to like us, but we shouldn’t have to trade our self-respect to gain friends or to achieve success.

We may be tempted to let minor disrespect slide to avoid conflict, but as the familiar saying goes, “if you give people an inch, they’ll take a mile.”

It’s much easier to address offensive or inappropriate behavior now than to wait until that behavior has gotten completely out of hand.

It’s also important to remember that positive reinforcement is even more powerful than negative consequences. When people do alter the way they treat you, acknowledge it. Let people know that you notice and appreciate their efforts.

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Final Thoughts

Respect is always a valid reason for setting a boundary. Don’t defend yourself or your needs. Boundaries are often necessary to protect your time, your space, and your feelings. And these are essential if you want to take control of your life.

Start with the easiest boundaries first. Setting boundaries is a skill that needs to be practiced. Enlist support from others if necessary. Inform people immediately when they have crossed the line.

Don’t wait. Communicate politely and directly. Be clear about the consequences and follow them through.

The better you become at setting your own boundaries, the better you become at recognizing and respecting the boundaries of others.

Remember that establishing boundaries is your right. You are entitled to respect. You can’t control how other people behave, but you do have control over the way you allow people to treat you.

Learning to set boundaries is not always easy, but with time, it will become more comfortable. You may eventually find that boundaries become automatic and you no longer need to consciously set them.

They will simply become a natural extension of your self-respect.

Featured photo credit: Thomas Kelley via unsplash.com

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