Low-fat diets could affect brain health - here's what to do about it

It seems like you can't go anywhere these days without hearing about brain fog, anxiety, ADD, depression, Alzheimer's Disease, autism, fatigue, Parkinson's and a whole range of other brain issues, and they're affecting more people than ever before. But why are more of us suffering from problems with our brains - could our diet be to blame?

Fat is the enemy

For so long, we've been led to believe that fat is the enemy and cholesterol is the culprit behind heart diseease. We've been warned off fat, fearing it would make us gain weight and clog up our arteries, but times are changing. Did you know that there might actually be no link between high cholesterol and risk of stroke, according to a study published in the Neurology journal in 2014 (1)? Alongside this, we've learned that some cholesterol-lowering drugs known as statins can have side-effects such as brain fog and memory loss.

Our brains are 60% fat and up to 1/4 of your body's total cholesterol is in the brain, so a low-fat diet could actually be depriving your brain of the essential nutrients it needs.

Sugar or fat - what's best for brain health?

One thing we all consume too much of is sugar in its many forms. From sugary junk foods to carbs and even hidden sugars in processed meals, sugar is all around us, but what is it doing to our brains?

A study carried out in 2013 revealed that non-diabetic individuals with higher blood sugar levels suffered from decreased function in parts of the brain affected by Alzheimer's disease. A diet consisting of fat, not sugar, as the primary energy source (known as a ketogenic diet), can do plenty for brain health.

Healthy fats provide sustainable energy and when you consider that as babies we relied on fat from breast milk to grow and allow our brains to develop, it makes sense that consumption of good fats is definitely the best way to fuel our brains as adults.

Brain food

If you've avoided fat and cholesterol all your life, it's time to change the way you view fats. The best fats for your brain include monounaturated fats such as those found in coconut oil, olive oil and avocados, as well as organic saturated fats from grass-fed sources, such as coconut oil, ghee, butter and grass-fed animals.

Omega-3 fatty acids found in oily fish like salmon and mackerel are also great for brain health and can help to decrease your risk of conditions such as Alzheimer's Disease. Arachidonic and Docosahexaeonic acids are fats which play an important role in keeping our brains healthy, and the best sources are wild fish (such as salmon) and grass-fed meats; another good reason to go Paleo!

Not all fat is bad fat, and a low-fat diet could be increasing inflammation in your brain and putting you at risk of a host of brain issues ranging from anxiety and low mood to Alzheimer's and Parkinsons. So add some healthy fat to your diet today (it's best to do these things gradually, if you're switching from a low-fat diet) and enjoy the mood boost!

READ THIS NEXT: What is a good fat?

Works cited:

  1. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/25320101

Author By Paula Beaton
Date On 15th Jul 2015 at 15:49

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