Where do they come up with the brain is 60% fat?

Your brain has been called the most complex object in the universe – countless experiments have yet to uncover how and why it functions.

Some random Facts about the brain:

The weight of your brain is about 3 pounds.

Your brain is made up of about 75 percent water and feels like Jello to the touch!

Your brain consists of about 100 billion neurons.

The brain has the most mitochondria of any organ ( esp. the frontal cortex).

Pain receptors are absent in your brain, so your brain can feel no pain.

The human brain is the fattest organ in your body and consists of about 60 percent fat. Twenty five percent cholesterol and other lipids.

How can one of our most important organs contain so much fat? When you think about what it takes to make a brain work, in terms of power, the answer becomes clearer. Your brain generates enough watts to power a light bulb (roughly 20 watts). We all use nearly 100% of our brains (not 10%) and fats are vital to a healthy diet. Fats perform many functions in our body including absorbing fat-soluble vitamins, hormone synthesis, inflammation, temperature regulation, energy production, and much more. The brain is capable on obtaining about 70% of its energy solely from fat, namely ketones. In fact, better memory functioning is associated with higher total and low-density lipoprotein cholesterol levels in very elderly subjects (study NIH). The researchers showed that in the elderly, the best memory function was observed in those with the highest levels of cholesterol. Low cholesterol is associated with an increased risk for depression and even death.

The good fats, or lipids, that work so eloquently in our bodies are called fatty acids. The types of fatty acids we consume can make a big difference. The main two essential omega-3 fatty acids are EPA (eicosapentaenoic acid) and DHA (docosahexaenoic acid). Essential fatty acids are required for maintenance of optimal health. They cannot be synthesized by the body and must be obtained from dietary sources. Many clinical observation studies have related imbalance dietary intake of fatty acids to impaired brain performance and diseases.

Dietary decosahexaenoic acid (DHA) is needed for the optimum functional maturation of the retina and visual cortex, with visual acuity and mental development seemingly improved by extra DHA.  Basically, having a good balance of omega 3 to 6 to 9 is what is really important. If we eat a good amount of omega 3 rich sources, the rest balances out. Remember the acronym SMASH – Salmon, Mackerel, Anchovies, Sardines, and Herring all contain very high amounts of omega 3’s. But remember that other seafoods such as oysters and shrimp also contain good omega 3 along with other essential nutrients. Organ sources of meat contain omega 3 fatty acids in very high amounts – 100 grams of liver (about 3 ½ ounces) contains a total of 609 milligrams of Omega-3 fatty acids. Whereas a steak, does not contain anywhere near that amount. A grass diet improves the level of Omega-3 fatty acids in that steak, but not anywhere near as you can get from eating fish.

It’s difficult for vegans (vegetarians who eat no foods derived from animals, including eggs and milk) to get adequate omega-3 fatty acids from their diets, since the two essential omega-3 fatty acids, EPA (eicosapentaenoic acid) and DHA (docosahexaenoic acid) are most available in fish oil. Vegetarian sources of omega-3s provide only ALA (alpha-linolenic acid), a precursor form that the body cannot convert efficiently to the DHA and EPA it needs (there is much debate about this).

Cholesterol and the brain

Most people don’t think about that we have a very high amount of cholesterol in our brains. Cholesterol is vitally important for brain function. While your brain represents about 2-3% of your total body weight, 25% of the cholesterol in your body is found in your brain, where it plays important roles in such things as membrane function, acts as an antioxidant, and serves as the raw material from which we are able to make things like progesterone, estrogen, cortisol, testosterone and even vitamin D. More importantly, cholesterol is our bodies first line of immune defense.

This understanding of the important role of cholesterol in brain function raises concern as we now see changes in recommendations for prescribing statin medication. Some estimates indicate that moving forward, the number of individuals taking statins to lower cholesterol in America may actually double! This presents a worrisome proposition for brain health.

Trans Fats and vegetable oils

One reason America has become a nation of overweight people is because of our consumption of vegetable oils. Namely trans fats; our consumption of unprocessed essential fatty acids has declined by more than 80 percent while our consumption of trans fats has skyrocketed more than 2,500 percent!

If you want your brain to be healthy and happy, severely limit saturated and hydrogenated fats.

Trans fats disrupt the production of energy in the mitochondria (the energy factories) of brain cells. When your diet is high in trans fatty acids and low in omega-3 fatty acids, your brain absorbs twice as many trans fatty acids. Vegetable oil is an industry term. Once you start looking for vegetable oils, you will find them in everything!

Canola

Corn

Cottonseed

Soy

Sunflower

Safflower

All promote inflammation starting in the GI tract and extending into the arteries, nervous system, and everywhere else in your body. They affect energy production by blocking enzymes involved in breaking down fat for energy, contributing to weight gain around the waist. The onset of lipid peroxidation within cellular membranes is associated with changes in their physiochemical properties and with the impairment of enzymatic functions located in the membrane environment. There is increasing evidence that aldehydic molecules generated endogenously during the process of lipid peroxidation. Oxidation of omega 3 fatty acids produce molecules like 4-Hydroxy-2-nonenal (HNE), which are largely responsible for cytopathological effects observed during oxidative stress (study here).

 

Remember to do these things to improve your brain health (though not exhaustive)

Eat whole foods – don’t depend on supplements

Exercise

Sleep

Get sun (vitamin D production)

Turn of the screen and phones

Cut out artificial sweeteners

Improve your mitochondria

Cut out vegetable oils