Feeling tired… needing your afternoon nap… just wanting to lay down in the middle of the workday… You know you have so much longer to go, but there's just no energy… Maybe you need some chocolate…
Chances are, you need a little bit more fat in your diet, particularly the healthy omega-3s that can help your brain function as it's supposed to.
What Are Omega-3 Fatty Acids & Where Do You Get Them?
Omega-3 fatty acids are a class of fats that are very healthy for the body – we do need a lot of them. The name literally means this fatty acid has multiple double bonds, and the first double bond is between the third and fourth carbon atoms from the end.
Omega 6s have the bond at the sixth carbon, omega 9s at the ninth one, and so on.
Our bodies use omega-3 fatty acids to build hormones, the cellular structures of our cells, and build the protective membrane around our nerves that shield them from oxidative damage. Omega-3 can help lower LDL cholesterol, give you more energy, and help you lose weight. But, it's what they do in your brain that makes a big difference.
There are several different types of omega-3s, and you probably heard of eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA), and docosahexaenoic acid (DHA). Both of these come from animal sources, primarily fish. Alpha-linolenic acid (ALA) comes from plant sources, and our bodies do not easily use that.
What Do Omega-3s Do In Your Brain?
Fatty acids are critical for protecting the nerve cells and facilitate the messages between the different brain cells. Having this myelin sheath intact is essential for learning and memory. As a person ages, the fatty acids need replacing often, and a low-fat diet or one that is deficient in omega-3 fatty acids creates accelerated brain aging. This can lead to dementia and memory disorders.
In fact, a lot of research now studies supplementing omega-3 fatty acids in people with dementia and Alzheimer's. The research shows that people gain increased brain function and memory. It works incredibly well in people to help reduce the risk of developing dementia.
But perhaps one of the best places we see omega-3 fatty acids benefiting us is improving the symptoms of depression and anxiety. Some studies show that omega-3 fatty acid supplementation can affect people equal to mild antidepressant medications. Even with people with more severe symptoms showed an improvement.
Omega-3 fatty acids help reduce the signs of inflammation, including the reactions that may interfere with serotonin receptors in the brain.
Now, if you're not feeling brain fog or any memory issues, you might not notice a difference in the way you think after taking the omega-3s. It seems that there's no noticeable difference in people without impaired brain function. However, some studies indicate that supplementation early in life reduces the chances of depression and memory issues later in life.
Here's How To Get More Omega-3s In Your Diet Right Now
We talk a bit about supplementation, but that's not the only place we get our omega-3s. Fortunately, you can eat your way to better health.
The best source of omega-3 fatty acids is fish. Salmon, sardines, mackerel, and cod are rich and omega-3 fatty acids. The only downside is you have to be careful how much fish you eat because of the contamination of mercury and arsenic found within the waters.
Grass-fed beef and naturally raised chickens contain significant amounts of omega-3 fatty acids. Studies show that grass-fed beef can provide a large chunk of your Omega-3 intake. Naturally raised chickens eat bugs and insects that provide significant amounts of Omega-3 fatty acids in their flesh.
Quality is the key, though. Farm-raised fish do not contain significant amounts of omega-3 fatty acids. The same is true with corn or soy-fed beef and vegetarian chickens.
Your other option is supplementation. Good quality supplements will provide a healthy amount of omega-3 fatty acids quickly. Choosing a good supplement can be more complicated. Generally, you want supplements that are well manufactured and contain the US Pharmacopeia seal. This ensures what's on the bottle is what you're getting.
The best way to tell a good quality supplement is to break it open and smell it. A good quality omega-3 fatty acid supplement when broken open will have a smooth texture, little to no color, and no discernible odor. If it's starting to smell like rotten fish or have a rancid smell, it is not a good supplement. That rotten smell is a sign of expired oils and they could make your stomach upset.
Overall, choosing a mixture of healthy foods and supplementation can get you a wide variety of omega-3 fatty acids that will help your brain lift the fog. It can get you more energy and make you feel better.