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Eat good fats to prevent Depression

Eating more good fats and less bad fats helps avoid depression, Alzheimer’s and other inflammatory brain diseases.

Fat – in general – is not an enemy to the brain.  In fact, almost 60% of the brain is made from fats, dietary fats.  However, these are special fats that have a purpose – not the same kind of fat that sits on the belly.

The brain cells are called neurons.  Each neuron is covered in a membrane that’s made from fats or fatty acids.  You need to eat fats in order for cells to make this membrane and to keep it strong.

You also have a protective substance in your brain called myelin.  Myelin is a covering that helps to keep the signals in your brain from getting crossed.  You can think of it like the plastic coating on an electrical cord.

The coating keeps the electricity moving in the right path.  Myelin does the same thing for your brain.   And myelin is made up mostly of fat.  In order to make myelin, you need to eat fats so that the raw materials are there to make it.

But the wrong kind of fat, particularly trans fats can actually cause problems for your brain.  And carrying too much fat on your body can also cause problems.

Eliminate Trans fats

Trans fat is actually a man-made type of fat.  This comes from taking unsaturated oils and adding hydrogen to them so that they’ll stay solid at room temperature.  This type of fat is found in foods such as margarine and shortening.

Trans fats are also commonly found in french fries, chips, cookies and packaged snack foods.  This type of fat was once thought to be healthier.  However, modern research revealed that it is not only healthier, but it’s actually worse for your health.

Why do trans fats cause depression?

Your body uses natural fats found in foods to function daily. Natural fats keep cell membranes healthy and take vitamins A, K, D, and E to the brain. Trans fats kick out and replace natural fat cells.  When trans fats do this, they destroy cell membranes, wreak havoc on hormones, adversely affect memory and create depression.

Trans fats increase serum cholesterol. Serum cholesterol is cholesterol that floats in the blood. Trans fat also creates ‘bad’ LDL cholesterol which is created by eating lots of trans fatty foods. LDL cholesterol gunks up and blocks arteries, severely reducing blood flow to all parts of the body. Research proves that eating trans fats causes depression by clogging arteries and limiting blood supply carrying important nutrients to the brain.

Your brain is protected by a blood-brain barrier (BBB). The BBB keeps a lot of LDL cholesterol away from your brain, protecting it from being clogged up with fat. But your brain needs fat to function. So your brain makes its own fat, because it needs fat in its membranes, tissues, and the myelin sheaths which protect neurons. Neurons are important. Your body sends information via nerves to neurons. Nerves are like highways, and neurons are like pits stops. Neurons take the information and reply with what the body should do. It takes milliseconds for the entire process to happen. It’s so fast, you often don’t even realize it has happened.

Trans fats have been shown to replace good fats in the brain. Since 60 percent of your brain is made up of fat, this replacement of good fat by trans fats creates trouble. Trans fats replace good fats, like DHA, in your brain. So, trans fats eat away at the blood-brain membrane which is made up of fat. As trans fats become part of the brain’s membranes or myelin sheaths, they interfere with the communication between neurons. As a result, your brain cells shrink or die off. Memory goes. Depression sets in.


Fatty Acids

Fats are food groups that contain different fatty acids. The brain needs specific types of fatty acid in order to function at its peak.  You need polyunsaturated fatty acid (PUFA), saturated fatty acid (SFA) and monounsaturated fatty acid (MUFA), more or less in right amount in order to have good brain health.

When you are getting too much animal-sourced saturated fats and trans fats and not enough of the PUFA and MUFA in your brain, you may suffer from problems such as:

  • Depression
  • Dementia, Alzheimer’s
  • Schizophrenia
  • Allergies
  • Attention deficit disorder

Polyunsaturated Fatty Acids

Polyunsaturated fatty acids include DHA, an omega-3 fatty acid that helps boost brain power.  Omega-3 fatty acids have been shown in research to help improve intelligence.  This is especially true when infants and young children are given these fatty acids.

Most people have more of the polyunsaturated omega-6 fats in their diets than omega-3 fats.  Omega-6 AA fats come from meat, corn, and dairy sources.

For most people, the answer is to add more omega-3 fatty acids.  You can do this through your diet by more Omega-3-rich fatty fish, nuts and seed oils like flaxseed oils.  Many people find that they have better mental health and mental clarity when they restore this type of balance.

Animal-sourced Saturated Fat in Your Diet

Recent studies have shown a connection between the saturated fat from animals and plaque on the brain.  Plaque on the brain is known to cause problems with memory loss and is evident in patients with Alzheimer’s disease.

Research showed that people who had a diet high in animal-sourced saturated fat had higher levels of a protein that can form plaques on the brain.  Those involved in the study that had a diet low in animal saturated fat had lower levels of this same protein.

Though this was a small study, the evidence shows how important it is to be careful about your fat consumption.  Animal-sourced saturated fats are more likely to lead to brain problems.  They also put you at greater risk for heart disease.


Reducing Animal Fats 

Saturated fat is the type of fat that’s mostly solid at room temperature.  This is usually found in animal fats.  You can find saturated fat in lard, butter, milk, beef, chicken, and pork.  You don’t have to totally eliminate these foods from your diet, but it’s important to make good choices about them.

You don’t have to throw out meat from your diet altogether.  However, you should try to minimize red meat and look for lean meats when you purchase them for you and your family.

It’s also a good idea to limit red meat to once a week on your family’s menu.  The other days can include poultry and fish or vegetarian meals.

So, here are the good guys– the Good fats!

Coconut Oil 

One good source of saturated fatty acid that is good for overall wellness and the brain is coconut oil, which is the best cooking oil. It is more stable in heat with higher flash point. One can also add coconut milk in cooking to enhance the saturated fat content of the meal.

Monounsaturated Fatty Acids

Monounsaturated fat is liquid at room temperature.  This is found in plants and plant-based oils.  With this type of fat, you actually reduce your risk of disease and improve your health.  MUFA is found in olive oil, moringa seed oil, flaxseed oil, nuts, avocado and other plant foods. It is believed that MUFA is the healthy fat in Mediterranean diet.

Supplements for Brain Health

If you’re struggling to eat enough healthy fat in your diet, supplements can help make up the difference.  There are a few different supplements that will improve your brain health and help you get the right type of fat.

First, fish oil supplements can be very helpful.  They’re full of omega-3 PUFA and can help you have better heart health in addition to helping your brain.  If you choose fish oil supplements, it’s important to make sure that they are high quality.  Avoid inexpensive generics that don’t contain enough quality omega-3 acids to help you.

Flaxseed oil is another supplement that can really improve your brain health.  Flaxseed oil is so useful for every part of your body that it won’t be stored as fat if you add it to your diet daily. 

Try Oleia Softgels dietary supplement, a blend of Omega-5 & Omega-9 monounsaturated fats, good for brain health.

Oleia Softgels also help balance-off the pro-inflammatory diet, which is linked to depression.

Depression and Inflammation

While it is not certain that Major Depressive Disorder (Depression) is a pure ‘inflammatory’ disease, research shows that patients with inflammatory diseases are more likely to show greater rates of depression; that a large number of people with major depression show elevated peripheral inflammatory biomarkers, even in the absence of a medical illness.

“I prescribe Oleia Softgel 500mg 2caps per day to my patients because it helps provide deficiency of anti-inflammatory fats in the major neurotransmitters of the brain, which causes swelling of neurons that lead to mental illness like depression, aneurysm, Alzheimer’s disease and schizophrenia. Mental illness may be caused by reaction to environmental stresses, genetic factors, poor food choices or a combination of these. It is very crucial that we provide proper attention to our brain by eating healthy foods especially good fats, by exercising regularly and taking Oleia Softgels daily” -Dra. Myrna Cuerdo, Psychiatrist