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Brain Health and the Food You Eat

thoughtimage250One of the biggest health issues we’re seeing in recent years is the dramatic increase in disorders that involve myelin sheath deterioration. The myelin sheath is a protective covering for our neurons that is vital for their correct function. Demyelination can be caused by various issues and may contribute to a plethora of problems, including Multiple Sclerosis and Guillain-Barré syndrome. Both the Central Nervous System and Peripheral Nervous System can be affected.

Our neurons’ myelin sheaths are vital to our health and well-being. Certain weed killers are implicated in damaging the sheath, as is Vitamin B-12 deficiency, although we still do not have a definitive list of causes. What we do know, however, is that when the myelin sheath deteriorates, our well-being goes with it.

One of the things we can do to help prevent demyelination is to eat a balanced diet that features a good ratio of Omega-3 to Omega-6 fatty acids. Modern, low-fat diets that feature processed foods have a heavily skewed fatty acid profile. It’s common for many people to be consuming a 50:1 ratio of 6s to 3s when these fatty acids should be as close to a 1:1 ratio as possible.

Adding nuts, such as almonds, pecans and macadamias, can ensure that we get enough Omega-9 fatty acids, from which we can derive oleic acid. Oleic acid is an important component found in the myelin sheath. Other foods that can contribute to rich oleic acid content are avocados and olive oil.

Structure of a typical neuron

Structure of a typical neuron

As I’ve written about many times in the blog, avoid trans-fats at all costs. Trans-fats are highly damaging to the body, including the brain. As such, avoid foods cooked with trans-fats and skip items such as margarine and foods that feature partially hydrogenated vegetable oil in the list of ingredients. Partially hydrogenated vegetable oil is just a fancy way of saying trans-fats.

If you suffer from health issues brought about in part or in whole from demyelination, you may find it beneficial to make some adjustments to your diet and vitamin supplementation to ensure a full complement and proper balance of your body’s vital fatty acids. As always, work with a qualified and licensed medical professional when seeking diagnosis and treatment for a given condition.

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