If keeping your memory past age 60, or recovering from traumatic brain injuries, or feeling happy instead of depressed or anxious, you want to eat Good Fats. The brain is made of them, and it depends on them for its function. Brain deterioration can occur due to low fat diets, and statin medications. The important thing is to get the right fats in healthy proportions, in order to keep the inflammation in our brains, and whole bodies, to a minimum. Inflammation is what causes the persistent brain damage after a trauma, as well as heart attacks, strokes, vision loss, kidney failure, erectile dysfunction, fibromyalgia, and a zillion other common complaints. Eating Good Fats is one of the best insurance policies you could have for a happy adulthood and maybe even a satisfying old age.
Some Good Fats are fish or fish oil, coconut oil or cream (curry), avocados, butter, nuts and seeds, egg yolks and olive oil. Cold water fish have the most omega 3's (DHA and EPA are the ones we know we are after) of virtually any food source. Most of us don't eat fish at home all that often, so taking a fish oil supplement is common. They did a study on frozen fish sticks and it turns out the badness of breading and frying them more than balances out the goodness inherent in them, making it a net loss. Fish sticks don't count. Coconut oil and butter and egg yolks all have saturated fats in them, which we used to think were artery cloggers, but now we know better. These foods have medium chain fatty acids that are excellent high energy food (you do not have to eat sugar to have energy!), and natural antimicrobial effects. Avocados, nuts and seeds are absolutely packed with healthy fats and other nutrients. Olive oil has more studies showing it is good for you than any other food. You can eat it raw or cook with it. And it tastes yummy all by itself.
One interesting thing about fats is that we absorb antioxidants best when we eat them with fats. This applies whether you are getting your antioxidants from your coffee, a salad, a blueberry smoothie, or the red peppers in your fajitas. So when you are eating something with fat in it, think about eating your bright colored fruits and veggies at the same time. Perhaps this is why curry has turned out to be such a powerful antioxidant food: it is full of bright spices like tumeric and cinnamon, in combination with the creamy fat from coconuts. Antioxidants keep fats from going rancid, yes, even in your brain.
You know which ones are the Bad Fats, I bet. Trans and hydrogenated oils, corn oil, vegetable oil, soy oil, cheese. All animal fats are more inflammatory than vegetable fats. This is why so many people are transitioning toward mainly vegetable-based diets. Pork fat is about half monounsaturated, so it isn't as bad for you as people used to think. The worst thing for your brain is also probably the most addictive American food: potato chips. A burger and fries has also been showed to increase your level of brain inflammation immediately after consuming it.
There are a bunch of myths to shed. As of today you can stop believing that eggs cause high cholesterol, and that we'd be best off avoiding saturated fats, and that a low fat diet is the way to lose weight. All those things are turning out to be false. We never know for sure what science will tell us next, but we can be sure that the picture changes. It is possible to affect your brain health through your diet. You have the power of choice.
This stuns me. For a long time statins and thyroid medications have topped the charts. Now an ANTI-PSYCHOTIC drug is the cash cow of American prescription drug sales. Statins are still the most frequently prescribed and refilled. Both antipsychotics and statin drugs have side effects lists a mile long. The intention is to keep people on them longterm to "manage" their health conditions.
If this doesn't say something about our mental health overall, I don't know what does. I'm not sure how so many people can be convinced that these drugs are the best way to treat mental illness, and high cholesterol. Perhaps people have simply given up, and are willing to take whatever insurance will buy for them. Letting insurance determine what is best for your health is probably not a great plan.
The overuse of pharmaceutical medications is dangerous. These meds overwhelm our natural internal balance, and reduce our ability to make intentional changes that will help us. And taking six or more Rx medications is guaranteed to impair your cognitive function. We can't ALL be psychotic. There are better ways to regain our balance than to take little pills every day. I do not mean that you should suddenly go cold turkey on your meds. But I DO mean that you ought to take some responsibility for understanding and remembering who you are, how you feel, and what makes you feel better or worse. Eating well and getting some exercise may do for you what no drug can.
From Medscape today:
The cholesterol-lowering drug rosuvastatin (Crestor, AstraZeneca) was the nation's most prescribed drug over the course of last 12 months, through September, whereas the antipsychotic aripiprazole (Abilify, Otsuka Pharmaceutical) racked up the highest sales — almost $6.4 billion, according to a new report from research firm IMS Health on the top 100 selling drugs in the United States.
New prescriptions and refills of rosuvastatin totalled 23.7 million, edging out the hypothyroid medication levothyroxine (Synthroid, AbbVie) at 23.4 million scripts. Similar to several other drugs in the top 100 list for prescription volume, rosuvastatin also did well in sales, ranking fifth, with $5.3 billion in sales for the 12-month period. In contrast, levothyroxine ranked 52nd in sales despite being heavily prescribed.
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A friend asked me this question yesterday. Madness is many things to many people. In my mind, all of these definitions are true. Notice that the majority of them are temporary states. If you have ever fallen "madly in love", then you can vouch for that one being an irrational state. Dementia in old age is exempted from the legal definition: you can loose your mind permanently and not legally be considered insane, though you would be legally considered incompetent. So the reason for the madness matters. And the duration, as well. A normal person can have an insane outburst and not be considered insane. We are all subject to folly from time to time. Hence my assertion that everyone is a little bit crazy, at least sometimes. It's our nature to be irrational, emotional, excitable or impulsive sometimes. It may even serve a purpose.
1) The state or condition of being insane; lunacy as evidenced by abnormal (or taboo) mental or behavioral patterns
2) Great folly ("it was sheer madness")
3) Fury, frenzy or rage
4) Enthusiasm or excitement
5) Extremity, excessive risk taking
6) Passion, being in love ("mad for you")
7) Slang for having Rabies (which is a virus that invades the brain; only one person has ever survived it )
8) Legal definition of insanity: mental illness so severe that a person cannot tell fantasy from reality, cannot conduct her/his affairs due to psychosis, or is subject to uncontrollable impulsive behavior. Insanity is distinguished from low intelligence or mental deficiency due to age or injury
9) Medical definition: psychopathology especially psychosis, or other specific medical diagnoses
10) Etymology: a definition derived from the root word meaning: poor health of the mind, defective mental processes ie reasoning
Teresa Gryder ND is a naturopathic physician with a unique perspective on mental health, and a wide range of evidence-based alternative treatments to consider. Originally from Tennessee, she currently practices in Portland, Oregon.