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How Healthy Fats Can Change Your Brain And Make You Smarter

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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.

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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 January 27, 2022

5 Reasons Why Food is the Best Way to Understand a Culture

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5 Reasons Why Food is the Best Way to Understand a Culture

Food plays an integral role in our lives and rightfully so: the food we eat is intricately intertwined with our culture. You can learn a lot about a particular culture by exploring their food. In fact, it may be difficult to fully define a culture without a nod to their cuisine.

“Tell me what you eat, and I’ll tell you who you are.” – Jean Anthelme Brillat-Savarin (1825).

Don’t believe me? Here’s why food is the best way to understand a culture:

Food is a universal necessity.

It doesn’t matter where in the world you’re from – you have to eat. And your societal culture most likely evolved from that very need, the need to eat. Once they ventured beyond hunting and gathering, many early civilizations organized themselves in ways that facilitated food distribution and production. That also meant that the animals, land and resources you were near dictated not only what you’d consume, but how you’d prepare and cook it. The establishment of the spice trade and the merchant silk road are two example of the great lengths many took to obtain desirable ingredients.

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Food preservation techniques are unique to climates and lifestyle.

Ever wonder why the process to preserve meat is so different around the world? It has to do with local resources, needs, and climates. In Morocco, Khlea is a dish composed of dried beef preserved in spices and then packed in animal fat. When preserved correctly, it’s still good for two years when stored at room temperature. That makes a lot of sense in Morocco, where the country historically has had a strong nomadic population, desert landscape, and extremely warm, dry temperatures.

Staples of a local cuisines illustrate historical eating patterns.

Some societies have cuisines that are entirely based on meat, and others are almost entirely plant-based. Some have seasonal variety and their cuisines change accordingly during different parts of the year. India’s cuisine is extremely varied from region to region, with meat and wheat heavy dishes in the far north, to spectacular fish delicacies in the east, to rice-based vegetarian diets in the south, and many more variations in between.

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The western part of India is home to a group of strict vegetarians: they not only avoid flesh and eggs, but even certain strong aromatics like garlic, or root vegetables like carrots and potatoes. Dishes like Papri Chat, featuring vegetable based chutneys mixed with yoghurt, herbs and spices are popular.

Components of popular dishes can reveal cultural secrets.

This is probably the most intriguing part of studying a specific cuisine. Certain regions of the world have certain ingredients easily available to them. Most people know that common foods such as corn, tomatoes, chili peppers, and chocolate are native to the Americas, or “New World”. Many of today’s chefs consider themselves to be extremely modern when fusing cuisines, but cultural lines blended long ago when it comes to purity of ingredients.

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Black pepper originated in Asia but became, and still remains, a critical part of European cuisine. The Belgians are some of the finest chocolatiers, despite it not being native to the old world. And perhaps one of the most interesting result from the blending of two cuisines is Chicken Tikka Masala; it resembles an Indian Mughali dish, but was actually invented by the British!

Food tourism – it’s a whole new way to travel.

Some people have taken the intergation of food and culture to a new level. No trip they take is complete with out a well-researched meal plan, that dictates not only the time of year for their visit, but also how they will experience a new culture.

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So, a food tourist won’t just focus on having a pint at Oktoberfest, but will be interested in learning the German beer making process, and possibly how they can make their own fresh brew. Food tourists visit many of the popular mainstays for traditional tourism, like New York City, San Francisco, London, or Paris, but many locations that they frequent, such as Armenia or Laos, may be off the beaten path for most travelers. And since their interest in food is more than meal deep, they have the chance to learn local preparation techniques that can shed insight into a whole other aspect of a particular region’s culture.

Featured photo credit: Young Shih via unsplash.com

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