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What to eat for a healthy brain?

By: Dawn Dolan
May 26, 2017

The role of eating fats in our diet has been under investigation for decades now.  It used to be thought that all fats contributed to obesity.  It is now well established that eating healthy natural fats are necessary to create our basic building blocks of essential fatty acids for brain food, hormone building, venous and arterial repair, and so much more.  Hydrogenated fats, on the other hand, are indigestible and unusable by the body causing an assortment of health issues, often including obesity.

One very interesting study published this month in Science Daily, focused on the type and source of fatty acids in relation to brain health and aging.  According to one researcher, Zamroziewicz, a central goal of this research in nutritional cognitive neuroscience is to understand how these nutrients affect brain health.

The researchers looked for patterns of differing types of fatty acids in the blood of adults ages 65 to 75, and analyzed the relationship between these nutrient patterns and the brain structure and performance on cognitive tests of these individuals.  Another study focused on the roles of both Omega-3 primarily from fish and fish oils and Omega-6 fatty acids primarily from nuts, seeds and plant oils.

Both studies found a positive correlation between the consumption of healthy oils and improved size and function of the front parietal network of the brain which plays an important role in fluid intelligence or the ability to solve problems one has never encountered before, as well as the formix of the brain which is one of the first regions to be compromised in Alzheimer’s disease.

Interestingly enough, these studies pointed to the need for a balance of both Omega-3 and Omega-6 fatty acids for optimal results.  They saw that the brain structure played a mediating role between the abundance and balance of nutrients in the blood and cognition as memory.  Since our Western diet tends to be heavily weighted towards the Omega-3 over the Omega-6 fatty acids, a bit of time spent going over what you generally eat during a weeks’ time and comparing the fat content of what you are eating to a list of foods from the list of Omega-3 rich foods and Omega-6 rich foods will be time well spent.

Much more detailed lists are available online, but a short list is:

Omega-3 Sources – flaxseed oil, fish oil, seafood, walnuts and walnut oil, caviar and soybeans

Omega-6 Sources – flaxseeds, hempseeds, grapeseed oil, pumpkin seeds, sunflower seeds, nuts, black currant seed oil, borage oil, evening primrose oil, and acai

Dawn Dolan, MA, ACN is an advocate for integrative healthcare, consulting with medical doctors, chiropractors, acupuncturists, psychotherapists, body workers, massage therapists and other healthcare professionals. She can be reached by email at