Eat a diet that supports your positive mood and mental health.
We’ve talked about the microbiome, or “second brain,” and how we can weaken or strengthen it with what we eat. We’ve talked about eating fresh vegetables of all colors. And how fermented foods like sauerkraut, pickles, kimchee, and kombucha introduce healthful organisms into our intestinal DNA system. We’ve talked about curcumin, and its benefits against depression. Now let’s talk about the very real effect of fatty acids on your brain.
Did you know that some of the most important, even vital, foods you can ingest are fatty acids? Maybe that sounds a little creepy… But it’s true.
The World Health Organization estimates that major depression is the greatest single cause of disability worldwide.
A study by JR Hibbeln showed that around the world, countries that consume the least amount of fatty fish show the highest levels of major depression (MDD) in their population. And countries where fatty fish is the main diet show the lowest incidence of MDD.
You Have a FAT Brain
You think I’m kidding..??
I’m telling you, your brain is 60% fat. 60% !! Shocking fact when you step on the scale. But don’t try to lose that excess weight from your head, because THAT fat is pretty important.
Fats reside in the neuronal membranes–the brain cell membranes–and in the myelin sheaths that surround them. And they’re important for delicate synapses. Remember that synapses are the connections between neurons.
The saturated fatty acids are combined in what’s called a lipid bilayer and that lipid bilayer forms the membrane that surrounds each brain cell. It’s made up of straight chain carbon atoms so the membrane is more firm like butter is firm at room temperature.
Now–this is where it gets interesting– unsaturated fatty acids are made of bent chain double bond curvy molecule structures. Because of this, there’s more space between molecules so when unsaturated fats are incorporated into the cell membrane, the membrane is more fluid. So, if you compared oil to the firmness of butter, these are more fluid like olive oil, for example.
The omega 3 fatty acids are fluid ones.
Another remarkable characteristic of omega-3 fatty acids is that they’re precursors to eicosanoids like prostaglandin which can reduce inflammation. Super important for psychiatric disorders, which are associated with increased inflammation.
Eicosanoids go by the nickname ‘local hormones’ because they act on cells close to their site of production. So fatty acids in your brain cause the release of prostaglandin, which reduces inflammation that contributes to depression.
That’s a mouthful! But it tells a promising story.
Get the effect of fatty acids by eating more fatty fish.
Fatty acids like omega-3s are considered essential fatty acids, and you can only obtain them from your diet.
So to maintain a healthier, more positive outlook, decrease inflammation that can lead to depression, and actually fight depression symptoms, increase the amount of mackerel, salmon, oysters, sardines, and trout in your diet. Make sense? I hope so, because doing that can make a real, tangible difference for you.
In addition, seaweed is a nutrient dense food that’s rich in omega-3 fatty acids. Nori seaweed typically presents itself in sushi, and is a tasty snack on its own. Also spirulina and chlorella are also in the algae family and are a good source of omega-3s that you can add to shakes and smoothies.
Fatty Acids Are Essential for Your Brain Health
In a presentation at the annual meeting for the Society of Biological Psychiatry in NYC last year, Dr. Roel Mocking spoke about the critical requirement of fatty acids in psychiatric wellness.
He demonstrated that Omega 3 fatty acids reduce inflammation, reduce the release of cortisol from the hypothalamus-pituitary-adrenal-cortex-axis, and activate the amygdala.
The amygdala is one part of the brain that contributes significantly in processing emotion and decision-making. When someone’s amygdala is damaged, or destroyed, they tend to be fearless, and don’t use the necessary caution to make safe decisions since the caution the amygdala would create is absent.
So, by multiplying your fatty fish consumption, you provide your amygdala the fuel to be activated to process fear and enhance circumspect decisions. You can also reduce the release of cortisol, the stress hormone that has a negative impact on your health. And you equip your brain to reduce inflammation…all of which improve your mental and emotional functioning.
The Effect of Fatty Acids on Your Brain
Dr. Drew Ramsey, a nutritional psychiatrist, and author of 3 books on foods that feed the brain, is an assistant clinical professor at Columbia University. Dr. Ramsey promotes better nutrition for the brain with his patients. He laments that most Americans overfeed themselves in calories but starve themselves of the critical micronutrients the brain needs to thrive.
He prescribes antidepressants and other medications for his patients, and engages in psychotherapy with them, too. And he teaches that fresh and nutrition-packed foods help make other treatments more effective.
It’s a shame, according to Dr. Ramsey, that it’s so rare for Americans to eat foods that meet the needs of the “most complex and energy consuming organ in the body” which is the human brain.
Eat the Rainbow
He recommends “eating the rainbow,” as in eating all the colors of fruits and vegetables. Fresh foods like oranges, apples, bananas, pineapple, bell peppers, tomatoes, avocados, kale, sweet potatoes, and blueberries.
Combine these with fish like mackerel, salmon, trout, sardines. And walnuts, pecans, and almonds.
These can help prevent harmful inflammation, and feed your brain, your heart, and your digestive system.
They can reduce symptoms of depression and anxiety, and promote mental clarity.
Ketamine Treatment Can Help Give You a Fresh Start
So, if your diet changes and medications aren’t bringing the relief you hope for, then let’s talk about ketamine treatment. Because this remarkable treatment of at least 6 infusions within 2-3 weeks has been changing lives across the country. It just may change yours, too.
While we don’t center an entire treatment program around food, we do work with patients and guide them in supporting their brain function by avoiding food dyes and preservatives.
In addition, we show them that by adding healthy foods, micronutrients, and lifestyle changes, they give their brains and emotions an optimal environment for restoration.
If you suffer from depression, symptoms of anxiety, or other mood disorders, and other treatments have brought no relief, call us.
We’ll talk with you and determine whether you’re a candidate for ketamine treatment. We’ll guide you to eat foods that improve your well being. And please do follow the links in this article to read more information about your microbiome and your restoration.
It’s all about getting better. Enjoying your life. Watching symptoms fade and your strengths rise.
Call us, and let’s create a plan to help you restore joy and fulfillment in your life.