Written by: Brittney Oliver, Executive Contributor
Executive Contributors at Brainz Magazine are handpicked and invited to contribute because of their knowledge and valuable insight within their area of expertise.
In a day in age of excess consumption, where most industrialized countries boast a current obesity rate of over 42%, it is safe to say that striving to be “fat” is generally ill-advised. While this is true in regards to the human physique, it is not the case for the human brain. While the physical body is recommended to stay within about an eighteen to twenty-four percent fat ratio, the human brain stands at a whopping sixty percent! Your brain feeds on and relies on healthy fats to maintain integrity and function, just like your body depends on H20 to maintain a sixty percent water composition.
Essential fatty acids such as omega 3 fatty acids found in fish, some veggies and wild game are especially important during the initial brain formation in fetal development because they assist in the proper growth of both white and grey brain matter. In human breast milk, which is nature's perfect food, you will find a strong presence of DHA, which will continue to nurture an infant’s overall health, especially the rapid development of their prefrontal cortex; the area of the brain responsible for orchestrating behavior.
Within the brain, you will find multiple nerves and nerve cells that send signals and coordinate functions. Around these nerves exist a fatty protective layering called myelin. By definition, myelin is an insulating layer or sheath that forms around nerves, including those in the brain and spinal cord. It is made up of protein and fatty substances. This myelin sheath allows electrical impulses to transmit quickly and efficiently along the nerve cells resulting in fast responses, focus and optimal brain functionality. This fatty protective substance is maintained through consuming healthy fats as discussed above, but it is also impacted by the body’s microbiota.
Your Gut or Microbiome is the diverse bacterial community within your digestive organs and this living community, if well-diversified and healthy, holds a master key to almost every area of your health. The gut impacts sleep, metabolism, digestion, cravings, immunity, blood pressure, autoimmune responses and so much more. Even more astoundingly, the gut has a direct communication pathway to your brain. Your gut microbes have the power to either help or hurt your precious myelin. Studies have shown that certain gut flora, when overgrown, can trigger myelin autoantigens causing autoimmune demyelination. This is when the immune system attacks its own myelin leading to exposed nerves.
This study was done to assess the role of gut microbes in Multiple Sclerosis and explain the conditions flare-ups. Not only did these studies give preventative hope for those suffering from MS, they gave the rest of the world something to chew on in regards to other brain degenerative conditions such as Alzheimer’s and even behavioral conditions such as ADD in both adults and children. While the science is just now starting to dive into this miraculous concept that is the Brain-Gut connection, we have enough evidence to presume that nurturing our microbiome may be the best way to improve mental cognition and prevent degenerative disease.
So, what does this mean for the intellectual, entrepreneur, student, or even parents of ever-distracted youth? It means that WE ARE RESPONSIBLE FOR OUR BRAIN! We influence the growth, development, and function of our noggin with what we eat, how we move, and how we live. When we feed our children sugar-laden, processed foods and send them off to school, we are actively participating in the degeneration of their brain cognition and expecting them to work with a broken machine, day in, day out. When we bathe in chemicals and toxins, we add an extra obstacle to our own focus issues and ability to control our moods.
When we sit a lot or forego sleep, we are committing to working much harder than is necessary, and we are limiting our own best potential. All lifestyle factors, especially diet, movement and stress, impact our Gut bacteria which constantly imprint on our brain neurons. This is perhaps the best perspective shift on the idea of “dieting.” What if we “dieted” not for ab muscles but for a sexy, fat brain? Willpower is generally a word given to rate a person’s ability to abstain from a compulsive behavior, but what if we focused on the very thing controlling the behavior instead; the one organ of the body responsible for your most innovative thoughts and the strategies that may ultimately lead you to purpose and passion? The thing that controls your moods and ultimately your happiness. Maybe in 2021, we should stop dieting for weight loss? Maybe we need to focus on building a different muscle? And maybe this will be exactly what our bodies, brain and life needed all along.
Brittney Oliver, Executive Contributor Brainz Magazine
Brittney Oliver is a board-certified Holistic Health and Life Coach who specializes in Gut Health and the Mind-Gut connection. After writing her first book, "Buddha Belly," she went on to develop the Holistic Wellness Coaching Academy, where she certifies individuals throughout the world in Gut Health and Mindset Strategy coaching. Brittney or "Coach Britt" as she is commonly known, is passionate about mental health and strives to empower others to live their ultimate life vision. She believes that through seeking purpose, we will find a passion capable of igniting our power to grow far more than willpower ever could.