Your Brain Needs Animal Fat

   04.18.19

Your Brain Needs Animal Fat

In a recent article in Psychology Today, Georgia Ede explains why the human brain — which is itself about 66% fat — needs animal fat. Animal fat is also vital for numerous other functions in the human body.

To break it down for us non-psychologists:

Our bodies need EPA (eicosapentaenoic acid), ARA (arachidonic acid), and DHA (docosahexanoic acid), and none of those omegas exist in plants that people eat.

EPA = anti-inflammatory and healing, omega-3

ARA = promotes healing, omega-6

DHA = “a very special essential omega-3 fatty acid” which makes up 20% of the fat which naturally occurs in the human brain. And this is the really special thing, she says, which people need and can’t get from plants.

Among its duties:

  • Formation of myelin (nerve insulation)
  • Maintaining the blood-brain barrier, which keeps the brain safe
  • Development of the human cortex — the part of the brain responsible for higher-order thinking (sustained attention, decision-making, and complex problem-solving)

DHA plays a ‘unique and indispensable role’ in the ‘neural signaling essential for higher intelligence.’ —Simon Dyall PhD, Lipid Research Scientist Bournemouth University, UK

Professor Michael Crawford, a pioneering British scientist who has been studying essential fatty acids for 50 years, theorizes that DHA’s special configuration lends it unique quantum mechanical properties that allow it to buffer electron flow. This may explain why we find it in places throughout the brain and body where electricity is important: synapses where brain cell signaling takes place; mitochondria, where the electron transport chain is busy turning food into stored energy; and the retina of the eye, where photons of sunlight are transformed into electrical information.

This is a truly miraculous molecule. Plants don’t have it, because plants don’t need it.

It’s especially crucial for children to receive plenty of DHA while the cortex is being developed, from the third trimester of pregnancy to age 2.

If enough DHA isn’t available to the baby during this critical 27-month window, it is unclear whether the consequences can be completely undone. In fact we do see lower levels of DHA in people diagnosed with psychiatric disorders, including those which manifest early in life, such as autistic spectrum disorders and ADHD.

So DHA is really important stuff, and you can’t get it from plants. I won’t bore you with further details, plenty of which can be obtained by reading the full article.

Source: Data from USDA National Nutrient Database 2016.
Source: Data from USDA National Nutrient Database 2016.
Image © Psychology Today

The point is: Human brains, and especially developing brains in unborn babies and infants, need animal fat. So eat some meat, and don’t listen to anyone who says not to.

Yum.

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