When you speak about macronutrients, you need to take into consideration the main three: Protein, Carbohydrates and Fats. There have been a lot of controversy from the media and mainstream science about the dangers of the fat consumption, however when taking any form of advice, whether it comes from a friend, a parent or even a doctor, it is important to do your own research.
Why do I advise carrying your own research, even when you get the suggestions from the doctor? A doctor is someone credible enough to give you advice and it ‘must’ be true, right? Well, there is some truth in it, but it’s not the main solution to the problems of each person.
We live in the era of resources and it is important to consider the ease of access of information. With the power of internet, online databases and even people’s experiences on the internet, we can paint a completely different picture for ourselves which sometimes might even differ from the doctor’s prescribed solution.
A recent Johns Hopkins study claims that about 250,000 people die in the US every year from medical errors, as other studies have the numbers climbing up to 440,000. That is the third-leading cause of death in the US. Mistreatment of patients and medical errors cause more deaths than strokes and diabetes which are really common. The reason for that is because with the influx of people to the hospitals and increasing lifespan of humanity, there is more and more pressure on the shoulders of the doctors which can frequently lead to a human error. Only because we have the resources and information around us, it is important to take our health in our own hands and carry out our own research as well as have regular health check-ups in order to track our health and wellbeing.
Cholesterol is something a lot of people fear. ‘Don’t eat fat, it has cholesterol in it!’. You have probably heard that before, right? It looks like people have been convinced to avoid cholesterol at any price, having the perception of it being the main cause of a heart disease.
Do not fear cholesterol. You need cholesterol. Without cholesterol, you wouldn’t be able to survive.
Cholesterol is an essential component of all the cells and membranes in your body. The majority of the cell is made out of cholesterol, making them produce hormones, fat-soluble vitamins and bile acids that can help you to digest the food better. Cholesterol is not bad for you, however as any other particle within your body, it has to be balanced. Too much cholesterol has been shown by the mainstream science to be the main cause of atherosclerosis where a plaque is built up in the blood vessels and arteries, making them more narrow.
Cholesterol is essential in your brain as well. Your brain consists of neuron connectors that give pathways for learning and memory. Cholesterol is required for the development of neuron connectors to be able to establish connections amongst different neurons within one’s brain.
Cholesterol is also essential for the production of Vitamin D. Vitamin D is a vital nutrient for bone health, hair, nails and especially the brain. Recent studies have shown that deficiency in Vitamin D brings a higher risk of dementia. Vitamin D is also important for the growth and development of neurons too.
So we come to a little bit of a dilemma over here. Cholesterol is both bad and good for you. What is the right choice after all?
Your brain is composed of about 75% water and somewhere around 60% of fat. The gray matter of your brain consists of more than 100 billion neurons that are constantly receiving and transmitting signals. Fatty acid supplies to the brain are essential during the both fetal and adult stages of one’s brain.
Omega-3 is a dietary fatty acid that can only be obtained through the intake of supplementation and foods such as most types of fish including salmon and sardines and also some plant-based foods such as flax seeds. Omega-3 can help the brain to function more effectively, bringing the vital nutrients of fatty acids to the brain.
Foods that are found in dairy products were considered bad fats – saturated fats. There are also saturated fats in meat and some plant-based products such as coconut oil. For years saturated fats have been considered as dangerous and to be taken with caution, however a study in 2013 by the Mayo Clinic has found out that individuals that consumed higher amounts of saturated fats have reduced their risk of dementia by 36%, whilst the higher consumption of carbohydrates has increased the risk.
Foods such as avocados, nuts, seeds and oils are good sources of unsaturated fats. Also nuts, peanuts, cashew nuts and almonds have been considered as great sources of polyunsaturated fats.
Foods such as olive oil, sunflower seed oil and other oils have been considered as a great choice of fats also.
Including these fat sources in your diet is essential part of the brain development and neuron production. Having sufficient amount of cholesterol will not only make the health of your brain much better, but will also elevate your cognitive power.
More and more studies come out suggesting that higher levels of sugar and carbohydrate consumption are actually causing the fall of the brain health. Individuals who have their insulin levels elevated frequently, even if they do not suffer from diabetes, have been found to have a higher risk of dementia.
Can your brain survive without carbohydrates?
Of course. Your brain can get the glycogen in other ways too.
Your brain needs somewhere around 130 grams of glucose per day in order to function properly. When the carbohydrates get broken down in your body, they become glucose molecules (sugar) and it is used as a fuel in your liver, brain and muscle tissue.
A man who weighs somewhere around 65-70 kg will store about 100 grams of glucose within his liver which can be used to fuel the brain when the carbohydrates are absent. In order to prevent your blood sugar levels dropping too low, your body takes the glycogen from the liver and the muscle tissue and break it down in order to prevent your blood sugar levels dropping too low. After staying absent from carbohydrates for about 48 hours, the insulin levels and blood sugar levels will drop a lot, which will then kick start another process.
After your blood sugar level and insulin drops, your liver starts producing water-soluble compounds – Ketones. Ketones are much smaller molecules than glucose, which means that they can pass the blood-brain barrier much more effectively. Because of this, your brain is able to function more effectively.
Of course, your brain requires some glucose in order to function, even during the fasted and low-carbohydrate phases, but glucose can be obtained from protein and dietary fat during gluconeogenesis (making of new glucose molecules).
Your body is a self-governing mechanism and it seems like with the absence of one nutrient, your body finds ways to make it from different sources. It’s like an ecosystem inside you, always finding ways to keep you alive, putting your body on the survival mode 24/7.
Just take a look at the simple example of a grocery store. Whenever you come in, you will see more products that are carbohydrate-rich rather than fat-rich. Carbohydrates can be highly addictive when taken in a sugar form and overconsumption of carbohydrates leads to diabetes and obesity.
It is important to balance your diet, not only because balance is good for your health physically, but it’s also good mentally. Having sufficient intake of macronutrients and minerals is essential for your body and mind.
Like always, when making any dietary choices, it is important to consult with your physician or dietitian. Apart from that, you always need to carry out your own research to elevate your health and perform well.
Do not be afraid of fat, it’s an essential compound that is required for your body to function properly and effectively.