Aging is an inevitable part of life, and aging in a healthy way, particularly preventing cognitive decline for yourself or your loved ones, is a growing concern for many people.
But this concern about brain health and aging is not limited to later-in-life patients or people at risk of Alzheimer’s or dementia. In fact, many people, of all ages and life-stages, report a lack of mental clarity, fogginess, poor memory, unstable moods, and an inability to properly focus and learn.
And although many of these symptoms can have a myriad of causes beyond our control, there is one contributing factor to a high functioning brain we can directly influence: our consumption of healthy fats.
Although fat often gets a bad rap, incorporating the right balance of beneficial fats into your diet can dramatically affect your brain’s health.
“But I thought fat was bad.”
Fat is essential in the composition of many elements of our bodies’ systems, including cell membranes, the myelin sheath (the cell coating that enables messages to be carried across the nervous system), and over 60 percent of the brain.
Beyond simple composition, fat is an important macronutrient responsible for providing insulation and energy and acting as a starting point for almost all critical hormones in the body.
So, instead of eliminating all fats from your diet, it is better for your body and your brain to shift your focus on consuming the right types of fat, achieving a better balance of beneficial fat for your health and wellbeing.
When thinking of beneficial fats, consider a Mediterranean diet, with an emphasis on vegetables and monounsaturated fats like olive oil, nuts, and seeds. The healthy fats in this diet nourish and enhance the brain and daily operating, protecting against degenerative diseases.
In a PREDIMED-NAVARRA study, two groups followed a Mediterranean diet, with one group supplementing the diet with one-quarter ¼ cup of nuts per day and the other with 4 tablespoons of olive oil. These two groups were compared against a low-fat consumption control group. After 6 ½ years, the study found that in both groups following the respective Mediterranean diets there were fewer participants diagnosed with dementia.
But, just as the right types of fats benefit the body and encourage a healthy balance, the wrong types of fats can be disruptive as well, creating problems like inflammation, diabetes, and premature aging.
Bad fats, like industrial-made trans fats (think Crisco or fried foods), and even excessive consumption of saturated fats, like heavy cream and animal fats, can have a negative effect on your brain and body’s healthy functioning.
“But, how do I know where I stand with my fats?”
Hopkins Medical Group is now equipped to provide some answers regarding your body’s balance of good and bad fats. Offering Brain Span testing, we can take a few drops of blood from your finger, and get an accurate glimpse into the health of your cells based on their fatty acid balance.
In addition to a blood test, Brain Span technology incorporates a brief online cognitive test that sheds light on your brain’s performance in attention, processing speed, and memory.
From your cumulative results, the Hopkins team will compile your information and offer a roadmap for making specialized changes to optimize your healthy fat balance.
These simple changes based on the specifics of your body can lead to noticeably higher brain functioning and improved health in as little as 90 days.
Contact Hopkins Medical Group to learn more about Brain Span, and begin your journey to a better, healthier lifespan, full of the functioning you deserve.
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Brain Power & Nutrition, Dietary and lifestyle choices that contribute to brain health (2020). Health & Nutrition Letter in cooperation with Tufts University, p. 24-25.