I love fat…eating it, that is. Even with the recent publicity about the benefits of eating fat and the detrimental effects of avoiding it completely, many people still reach for low fat items in the grocery aisle. Since our brain is 60% fat, there is some research that suggests a low fat diet might be detrimental to brain health.
David Ludwig, MD, PhD at Harvard University writes about the connection between obesity, cravings and dietary consumption of fat. His book, Always Hungry? Conquer Cravings, Retrain Your Fat Cells and Lose Weight Permanently, highlights the important role dietary fat plays in our feelings of satisfaction.
Dr. Ludwig points to insulin as a type of “Miracle Grow for your fat cells.” When we eat too many refined carbohydrates, a habit that often results when we are avoiding fat, our pancreas releases a rush of insulin. Insulin is a good thing. It acts like an usher escorting glucose molecules out of the blood, where it can wreak havoc, into the cells of the body where it is needed for energy production. Too much sugar intake is handily stored as fat, a sort of storage unit to be used when food later becomes scarce. But when our carb intake rises, insulin does too, and persistent levels of insulin create a myriad of problems which ultimately leads to Type II and Type III diabetes. Chronic high levels of insulin not only strain the pancreas, but also keep us feeling hungry, never satiated, and make it impossible for us to burn the fat we are so busy stockpiling.
Dr. Ludwig states that the simplest way to reduce chronically high insulin is to eat more fat. Ironically his research indicates that a healthy intake of fat reduces our cravings for sugary foods, helps us feel full and helps us maintain healthy blood sugar and insulin levels. There is evidence that periodic fasting is also helpful, since it helps to make the cells more responsive to insulin, potentially decreasing the need for higher and higher levels of insulin to clear the blood stream of glucose.
I wish this meant we could eat ice cream for breakfast, and potato chips for lunch. By now, most of my dedicated readers know without a doubt that there is a difference between healthy and not so healthy fats. Naturally, one can only achieve good health at the hands of healthy fats – foods like avocados that contain raw, unadulterated nourishment. Cold water fish like salmon, raw nuts and seeds, eggs from chickens that eat vegetation and insects regularly, grass-fed and finished meats are a few examples.
This same principle can be applied to healthy brain function as well. A diet rich in certain fats maybe essential to maintain a youthful, high-functioning brain. Furthermore, managing chronically elevated insulin levels is one of the fastest ways to support healthy cognition and promote longevity.
Learn how to create your own custom natural brain care program with Keeping Your Brain Brilliant, a 6-week online course with Dr. Charis Lindrooth and guests Guido Masé, Deb Soule, Tammi Sweet, Kat Maier and David Winston.