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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 September 18, 2020

7 Simple Rules to Live by to Get in Shape in Two Weeks

7 Simple Rules to Live by to Get in Shape in Two Weeks

Learning how to get in shape and set goals is important if you’re looking to live a healthier lifestyle and get closer to your goal weight. While this does require changes to your daily routine, you’ll find that you are able to look and feel better in only two weeks.

Over the years, I’ve learned a lot about what it takes to get in shape. Although anyone can cover the basics (eat right and exercise), there are some things that I could only learn through trial and error. Let’s cover some of the most important points for how to get in shape in two weeks.

1. Exercise Daily

It is far easier to make exercise a habit if it is a daily one. If you aren’t exercising at all, I recommend starting by exercising a half hour every day. When you only exercise a couple times per week, it is much easier to turn one day off into three days off, a week off, or a month off.

If you are already used to exercising, switching to three or four times a week to fit your schedule may be preferable, but it is a lot harder to maintain a workout program you don’t do every day.

Be careful to not repeat the same exercise routine each day. If you do an intense ab workout one day, try switching it up to general cardio the next. You can also squeeze in a day of light walking to break up the intensity.

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If you’re a morning person, check out these morning exercises that will start your day off right.

2. Duration Doesn’t Substitute for Intensity

Once you get into the habit of regular exercise, where do you go if you still aren’t reaching your goals? Most people will solve the problem by exercising for longer periods of time, turning forty-minute workouts into two hour stretches. Not only does this drain your time, but it doesn’t work particularly well.

One study shows that “exercising for a whole hour instead of a half does not provide any additional loss in either body weight or fat”[1].

This is great news for both your schedule and your levels of motivation. You’ll likely find it much easier to exercise for 30 minutes a day instead of an hour. In those 30 minutes, do your best to up the intensity to your appropriate edge to get the most out of the time.

3. Acknowledge Your Limits

Many people get frustrated when they plateau in their weight loss or muscle gaining goals as they’re learning how to get in shape. Everyone has an equilibrium and genetic set point where their body wants to remain. This doesn’t mean that you can’t achieve your fitness goals, but don’t be too hard on yourself if you are struggling to lose weight or put on muscle.

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Acknowledging a set point doesn’t mean giving up, but it does mean realizing the obstacles you face.

Expect to hit a plateau in your own fitness results[2]. When you expect a plateau, you can manage around it so you can continue your progress at a more realistic rate. When expectations meet reality, you can avoid dietary crashes.

4. Eat Healthy, Not Just Food That Looks Healthy

Know what you eat. Don’t fuss over minutia like whether you’re getting enough Omega 3’s or tryptophan, but be aware of the big things. Look at the foods you eat regularly and figure out whether they are healthy or not. Don’t get fooled by the deceptively healthy snacks just pretending to be good for you.

The basic nutritional advice includes:

  • Eat unprocessed foods
  • Eat more veggies
  • Use meat as a side dish, not a main course
  • Eat whole grains, not refined grains[3]

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Eat whole grains when you want to learn how to get in shape.

    5. Watch Out for Travel

    Don’t let a four-day holiday interfere with your attempts when you’re learning how to get in shape. I don’t mean that you need to follow your diet and exercise plan without any excursion, but when you are in the first few weeks, still forming habits, be careful that a week long break doesn’t terminate your progress.

    This is also true of schedule changes that leave you suddenly busy or make it difficult to exercise. Have a backup plan so you can be consistent, at least for the first month when you are forming habits.

    If travel is on your schedule and can’t be avoided, make an exercise plan before you go[4], and make sure to pack exercise clothes and an exercise mat as motivation to keep you on track.

    6. Start Slow

    Ever start an exercise plan by running ten miles and then puking your guts out? Maybe you aren’t that extreme, but burnout is common early on when learning how to get in shape. You have a lifetime to be healthy, so don’t try to go from couch potato to athletic superstar in a week.

    If you are starting a running regime, for example, run less than you can to start. Starting strength training? Work with less weight than you could theoretically lift. Increasing intensity and pushing yourself can come later when your body becomes comfortable with regular exercise.

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    7. Be Careful When Choosing a Workout Partner

    Should you have a workout partner? That depends. Workout partners can help you stay motivated and make exercising more fun. But they can also stop you from reaching your goals.

    My suggestion would be to have a workout partner, but when you start to plateau (either in physical ability, weight loss/gain, or overall health) and you haven’t reached your goals, consider mixing things up a bit.

    If you plateau, you may need to make changes to continue improving. In this case it’s important to talk to your workout partner about the changes you want to make, and if they don’t seem motivated to continue, offer a thirty day break where you both try different activities.

    I notice that guys working out together tend to match strength after a brief adjustment phase. Even if both are trying to improve, something seems to stall improvement once they reach a certain point. I found that I was able to lift as much as 30-50% more after taking a short break from my regular workout partner.

    Final Thoughts

    Learning how to get in shape in as little as two weeks sounds daunting, but if you’re motivated and have the time and energy to devote to it, it’s certainly possible.

    Find an exercise routine that works for you, eat healthy, drink lots of water, and watch as the transformation begins.

    More Tips on Getting in Shape

    Featured photo credit: Alexander Redl via unsplash.com

    Reference

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