Lately, I’ve been talking a lot about different kinds of oils related to inflammation. We learned what is healthy and what are the inflammation fueling oils. In case you didn’t have a chance to read my previous email I highly recommend going back to do so.
The western diet is full of inflammation-causing oils (vegetable oils) including places where we don’t expect them. Thinking about oils we think of fried food, baked and cooked meals, processed and prepackaged meals. Right? I am here to tell you inflammation-causing oils are lurking in cookies, cakes, pastries, candy bars, energy bars, etc. where I wouldn’t expect them. Do you agree?
How can we diminish the harmful effects of those oils?
By increasing Omega-3 fatty acids.
Let me explain. Omega -6 essential fatty acids (EFA) have pro-inflammatory effects versus Omega-3 EFA have an anti-inflammatory effect. It’s important to keep the two in balance. Our body needs a small amount of Omega -6 EFA for brain and muscle functions, hormone productions, etc. In high amounts, they will inflame our bodies. Omega-3 EFA will neutralize the inflammatory effect. The ideal ratio should be Omega-6: Omega-3 should be 1:1 or at least 4:1 for optimal health. Our problem is that this ratio is skewed, big time to 12:1 and even 25:1. That is one of our huge health problems folks!! We are an inflamed nation!! Many of us are walking with a bomb ticking inside of us, ready to explode at any time (hint stroke, heart attack, memory loss, etc.).
We can lower the harmful oils by not eating them, not using as cooking oils and avoid buying foods that contain them.
This could be the hard part. We like cookies, chips, fried food. Don’t we? They are comfort food.
Adding more Omega-3 is the easier part. Adding cold water wild fish to our diet at least once a week is not that difficult. The most popular is salmon. Please let it be wild-caught salmon (farm-raised is one of the most toxic food). In case you are vegan, or vegetarian is mindful of the fact that our bodies convert poorly plant-based Omega-3 into more potent forms such as EPA and DEA.
Supplementing with fish oil or krill oil is a great idea for everyone.
So, let me answer the question of how much Omega-3 we need, it depends on how much Omega-6 we are ingesting. Remember, we want to achieve a balance of 1:1.
Food high in Omega-3
- Wild Salmon
- Grass-fed butter
- Grass-fed beef
- Chia seeds
- Flax seeds
Be aware of nuts. They have a lower amount of Omega-3 and much higher amounts of Omega-6. Eat them in moderation!!
Make your own favorite salad and add chunks of sardines. It’s that simple. I like to use mixed greens ( baby spinach, arugula, baby kale). Sometimes I add a tablespoon of mayo (Primal kitchen; the healthy ones) and top with sardines. This recipe works well when time-restricted. You can take cans of sardines while traveling. Beside Omega-3 sardines have bones also and this form of calcium our body can readily use for bone-building purposes.
To your radiant health, with love
PS!!! I am still offering a free consultation for sisters who are cancer survivors or going through the treatment while I am writing this email. This is my act of generosity, paying it forward. Take the offer!!
Here is the link to my calendar to schedule our Virtual Coffee
You know that you can have gastrointestinal symptoms when you’re stressed or nervous. We’ve all experienced that.
But, you may have also heard about the “gut-brain connection.” That your gastrointestinal system, lovingly called the “gut,” not only talks to your brain (yes, talks “to” your brain) but is kind of its own brain (a “second brain”). And that it may influence your actual brain.
If there was ever a call for “digestive health,” this is it! Yes, it’s true. Your gut is considered your “second brain.” There is no denying it anymore.
And because of the new scientific discoveries about the Vagus nerve, the enteric nervous system, and the amazing influence your gut microbes can have, it’s no wonder what you eat feeds not only your body but can directly affect your brain.
I find it amazing (but not too surprising).
What exactly is the “gut-brain connection.”
Well, it’s very complex, and to be honest, we’re still learning lots about it!
There seem to be multiple things working together. Things like:
- The Vagus nerve that links the gut directly to the brain;
- The “enteric nervous system” (A.K.A. “second brain) that helps the complex intricacies of digestion flow with little to no involvement from the actual brain;
- The massive amount of neurotransmitters produced by the gut;
- The huge part of the immune system that is in the gut, but can travel throughout the body; and,
- The interactions and messages sent by the gut microbes.
This is complex and amazing if you ask me.
I’ll briefly touch on these areas, and end off with a delicious recipe (of course!)
There is a nerve that runs directly from the gut to the brain.
And after reading this so far, you’ll probably get a sense of which direction 90% of the transmission is…
Not from your brain to your gut (which is what we used to think), but from your gut up to your brain!
The enteric nervous system and neurotransmitters
Would you believe me if I told you that the gut has more nerves than your spinal cord?
I knew you would!
And that’s why it’s referred to as the “second brain.”
If you think about it, controlling the complex process of digestion (i.e. digestive enzymes, absorption of nutrients, the flow of food, etc.) should probably be done pretty “smartly”…don’t you think?
Guess how these nerves speak to each other, and to other cells? By chemical messengers called “neurotransmitters.”
In fact, many of the neurotransmitters that have a strong effect on our mood are made in the gut! e.g. a whopping 95% of serotonin is made in your gut, not in your brain!
The immune system of the gut
Because eating and drinking is a huge portal where disease-causing critters can get into your body, it makes total sense that much of our defense system would be located there too, right? Seventy-five percent of our immune system is in our gut!
And you know that the immune cells can move throughout the entire body and cause inflammation just about anywhere, right?
Well, if they’re “activated” by something in the gut, they can potentially wreak havoc anywhere in the body. Including the potential to cause inflammation in the brain.
You have billions of those little guys happily living in your gut. And they do amazing things like help you digest certain foods, make certain vitamins, and even help regulate inflammation!
But more and more evidence is showing that changes in your gut microbiota can impact your mood, and even other, more serious, mental health issues.
How do these all work together for brain health?
The honest answer to how these things all work together is that we really don’t know just yet. More and more studies are being done to learn more.
But one thing is becoming clear. A healthy gut goes hand-in-hand with a healthy brain!
So, how do you feed your brain?
Of course, a variety of minimally-processed, nutrient-dense foods is required, because no nutrients work alone.
But two things that you may consider eating more of are fiber and omega-3 fats. Fiber (in fruits, veggies, nuts & seeds) helps to feed your awesome gut microbes. And omega-3 fats (in fatty fish, walnuts, algae, and seeds like flax, chia, and hemp) are well-know inflammation-lowering brain boosters.