- How talking apples created a lot of worry
- This is why your brain is crying out for good fat
- A really easy way to look after the little grey cells – click here
OK, so I’ve had a few emails after my newsletter about apples talking to me…
…please don’t be alarmed I am not losing it.
In fact I don’t think I have ever had it!
I am very touched by the genuine concerns about my mental health, a topic that so many people find it hard to mention.
Yet it is something we all need to take a lot more seriously.
Especially as we get older when it seems our bodies begin to fail us in our adolescent dreams.
Our lustrous hair falls out and clogs the sink when we wash it, our carefully honed muscles weaken and hopes of representing Wales on the rugby field finally disappear!
Here’s another cruel fact of life you can add to the list, (alongside tax returns, baldness, the menopause, and toast always falling on the buttered side…)
Our brains shrink as we get older.
Experts reckon that the average brain shrinks 2% during each decade of adulthood.
As a man in his early fifties, I’ve lost just over 5% of my brain. By the time I’m 60, I’ll have lost 8%… and if I get to 80, I’ll have lost a whopping 12% of my brain.
I feel dizzy even writing it down…
Worse still, as you age the neurotransmitters in your brain begin to go on the blink.
This means that messages travel a lot more slowly through the network of wiring, and occasionally get lost in transmission.
Poorer circulation also means that your brain doesn’t receive vital nutrients as efficiently, so the cells don’t function as well as they used to.
Okay. So far, so bad.
But did you know that, despite all this, memory lapses and confusion are NOT an inevitable result of ageing?
Why your brain is fat
It might surprise you to learn that the human brain is 60% fat.
To keep its complex networks of fibres working properly, the brain needs good supplies certain types of fats, known as omega3 fatty acids (in addition to plenty of cholesterol.)
Now you’ve probably heard me go on about these before (omega-3 that is), but they’re important.
Found in fish, animal meat and eggs, these fats are essential if you want to keep your brain healthy. They can also help you ward off depression, memory loss, aggression and learning difficulties.
A low fat brain means that millions of vital fatty brain connectors begin to malfunction.
And you’ll never guess what…
Shock horror! The mainstream media agrees!
While I was researching this letter, I was surprised to see a report on the BBC website backing this up.
The story highlighted how the West’s diet – low in organic fish, eggs, seeds and nuts – was damaging our mental health.
Dr Andrew McCulloch, chief executive of the Mental Health Foundation, said: ‘we are only just beginning to understand how the brain as an organ is influenced by the nutrients it derives from the foods we eat and how diets have an impact on our mental health.’
What really surprised them was the fact that our brains need fat to be healthy… yes we need to eat fat!
Actually, research has been throwing up evidence like this for years now – it’s just the mainstream media is slow to report them.
Dr McCulloch went on to say that diet changes were having better results for mental health problems in some cases than using drugs.
Well, forgive me if I don’t fall off my chair in shock.
As you know from many of my Good Life Letters, simple dietary supplements often outperform expensive drugs peddled by corporations.
You see, we just aren’t getting enough of the good natural stuff these days…
- We eat two thirds less fish than 30 years ago
- Mass-produced meat contains much less natural fat than slow reared locally produced carcasses did 30 years ago
- We eat fewer vegetables and, when we do, they’ve travelled for thousands of miles and are coated in pesticides
The decline in the quality of our diet has opened the doors for dozens of mental health problems.
Recent studies say poor diet could be linked to depression, schizophrenia, attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, and even Alzheimer’s disease.
Now more clinical trials are underway to find out whether omega-3 supplements could reduce problems such as depression, dementia and schizophrenia.
There are other fats your brain needs, too…
A special fat that boosts your brainpower
All of the cells in our body contain a range of lipid, or fat, based compounds which are vital for the way they work.
In nerve cells there is a concentration of another type of specialised lipid/fat compound called Phosphatidyl Serine which helps your brain cells do their jobs properly, in many ways;
- It is an integral part of all cell membranes but a key component of brain cells where it helps regulate movement of substances into and out of the cell, thus vital for protecting the cell and ensuring it receives the nutrients it needs.
- It helps neurons conduct impulses and supports connectivity between neurons to develop and protect memory function
- It supports neuroplasticity a really important function in the brain that allows areas of neurons to adapt and change according to their requirement.
- It helps your brain’s ability to repair existing neural cells and create new ones.
- It increases brain cell fluidity, enabling cells to stay adaptable and effectively respond to stressors.
- Phosphatidyl Serine encourages the release of three major neurotransmitters — serotonin, dopamine, norepinephrine, and acetylcholine and additionally, it speeds up communication between brain cells for faster thinking.
- It reduces production of cortisol. Stress generates long term production of a hormone called cortisol which heightens our alert state and drives energy release in preparation for the body to face danger and/or damage. But as a consequence of these changes there is also a proliferation of inflammation, plus high cortisol levels contribute to diabetes, obesity, heart disease, immune system suppression, and digestive disorders plus it wreaks havoc with your brain and mental well-being.
Getting plenty of Phosphatidyl Serine on a daily basis needn’t mean changing your diet, because a good quality supplement can make all of the difference.
A study1 in 1992 showed that using a Phosphatidyl Serine supplement improved several cognitive measures relative to those administered placebo.
A very special fat that’s worth making sure that you get enough of. So there you have it. A fatty brain is good for your mood, memory and mental health.
1 Crook, T. H., Petrie, W., Wells, C., & Massari, D. C. (1992). Effects of Phosphatidyl serine in Alzheimer’s disease. Psychopharmacology Bulletin.