We always hear about ways that we can take care of our bodily organs with the foods we eat. When we think about our diet and our lifestyle, we cannot help but to think about the impact that our choices have on our heart, liver and kidneys. But what about the brain? When it comes to our diet, the brain has traditionally been the most overlooked organ, when the brain is in fact greatly affected by our dietary choices. A mature human brain uses up to 20% of the energy used by the body. As you can see, it's time we start using our heads to help nourish our brains.
Next to water, lipids (or fats) constitute the largest percentage of the brain's composition, which is around ten percent or so. Omega-3 fatty acids, composed of DHA (docosahexaenoic acid) and EPA (eicosapentaenoic acid), are among the most beneficial brain nutrients. Of the two, the most essential asset to the brain is DHA, the chief polyunsaturated fat in the central nervous system. DHA is believed to have a direct effect on the brain's chemistry, development and functioning. The richest source of Omega-3 fatty acids is found in fish and fish oil (especially in the ultra refined or 'pharmaceutical grade' fish oil because of the high concentrations).
There are several ways that the Omega-3's found in fish oil can help maintain the brain. Here are the highlights, based upon recent scientific research ...
HELPS MAINTAIN A POSITIVE STATE OF MIND:
DHA helps to regulate serotonin, a neurotransmitter considered to be responsible for our "feeling good." Chronically sad people tend to have low levels of serotonin. Research suggests populations that consume large amounts of fish have lower numbers of people that are chronically sad. Also, a recent Australian study confirmed that the most severely depressed participants had imbalances of fatty acids in their cell membranes and in their blood. Establishing a healthy balance of fatty acids is thought to have a positive effect on your mood.
ENCOURAGES CALM THINKING:
The expression of stress-induced aggression has proven to be less likely if your brain is under the influence of fish oil, according to an extensive Japanese study. In a test of 41 adult students, those taking 1.5 - 1.8 grams of DHA (in fish oil) for three months were less likely to become more socially aggressive at a time of severe mental stress: final exams. On the other side of the study, students taking placebos displayed rather explosive moments of social aggression. This may also explain why fish oil is good for heart health. Stress hormones triggered by anger and hostility can constrict the arteries and accelerate the formation of blockages. Fish oil is said to suppress the release of such detrimental hormones.