A Holistic Approach to Brain Health and Holistic Inflammation Relief
So what is all the chatter about fats for our holistic healing and nutrition therapy? There has been so much interest on what we should consume when it pertains to healthy fats.
Years ago, we might have heard that eating low fat and no fat foods was the healthy way to go. Unfortunately, that just is not true! We would like to share our insights on this popular discussion.
Benefits of healthy fats to eat
Holistic healthy fats supports our mental wellness, our immune system, and so much more. Fats are wonderful for a holistic approach to brain health.
The brain uses more energy than any other human organ and lipids a.k.a. fats represents about 50% of its dry weight (1). Mental illness is the leading cause of disability and is related to most chronic illnesses globally (6).
Holistic healing and nutrition is widely being used to support health conditions that include modifiable risk factors. This means things we can change on our own for better outcomes.
Chronic inflammation, brain plasticity, oxidative stress, and our gut microbiota are all linked to mental illness. About one in five Americans suffer from some kind of mental health illness (4).
When choosing healthy foods choices, including fats, we create the power within ourselves to make modifiable changes for improving our quality of life.
So if fats are a holistic approach to brain health, pain and inflammation, blood circulation, and our immune system, then where did we go wrong in the healthcare industry?
An integrative nurse coach is culturally aware of individuals coming from all over the world in the way we care for the whole person.
Understanding where our ancestors originated can help support our genealogy and the transition of our food choices to better serve our health.
Our ancestors in various cultures would eat fats in a one to one ratio. Scientists believe these shifts in our dietary intake have led to many chronic diseases today.
What you should know about healthy fats: Good vs. Bad
Not all fats are created equal. The good fats such as polyunsaturated fats, supports our brain, keeps us full longer, and support heart health. The bad fats like saturated fatty acids can cause chronic illness, weight gain, and other health related complications.
The difference between them all has to do with the number of hydrogen atoms that are attached to the carbon atoms in a molecule. Saturated fatty acids have many atoms attached, monounsaturated fats have just one hydrogen atom missing, and polyunsaturated fats are missing more than more pair of hydrogen atoms.
Saturated fatty acids
Animal foods have more saturated fats. You can see this with your eyes from the fat marbling on the meats of beef and pork. Butter and dairy fats are other foods that have saturated fats.
These particular fats are bad and lead to heart disease and weight gain. These fats are solid at room temperature and tend to thicken the blood. When our blood is thick, our blood pressure rises and causes an increasing workload on the heart. There is also an increase in plaque that sticks to our arteries.
Coconut oil is a saturated fat, but is a medium chain triglycerides (MCTs). MCTs do not clog the arteries unlike long chain triglycerides in animal fats. Saturated fats increase the low-density lipoproteins (LDLs), the “bad” cholesterol, and high-density lipoproteins (HDLs) cholesterol levels, the “good” cholesterol.
Unsaturated fatty acids: monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats
Unsaturated fats support the body in lowering cholesterol. Monounsaturated fats are commonly found in seafood, avocados, olive oil, and nuts.
Monounsaturated fasts are considered the healthiest type of fats. These types of fatty acids help with normalizing prostaglandin levels that are great for regulating the dilation of our blood vessels during inflammation.
A popular holistic inflammation treatment to incorporate in your routine is monounsaturated fats. A recent study found that people who ate more fish had 14% more gray brain matter (3).
Choose moderate amounts of unrefined monounsaturated oils to lower allergy reactions from foods, drugs, and the environment.
Polyunsaturated fats are not as healthy as monounsaturated fats but are found in vegetable oils, seafood, and walnuts. These types of fats balance metabolic function and prostaglandin production, lower cholesterol levels but can also reduce levels of HDLs, the “good” cholesterol.
Omega 3 fatty acids and omega 6 fatty acids are polyunsaturated oils. Omega 3 fatty acids are a holistic approach to brain health that is essential for us and does not affect cholesterol levels. Common omega 3 oils come from cold-water fish, seaweeds, flaxseeds, and spinach.
The most common types of Omega 6 fatty acids consumed in the United States include, corn and sunflower seed oil. Other types include black currant seed, walnut, chestnut, hemp, soy, and more. The National Cholesterol Education Program guidelines recommend consuming a teaspoon a day of to meet your total omega 6 needs.
Did you know that omega 6 fats could be stored in the body for up to ten years? Omega 6 fatty acids are still good for us as it is another holistic inflammation treatment that supports our immune function but our intake should be in moderation.
Trans fats are hydrogenated oils that are terrible for our body doing nothing good for our holistic healing and nutrition.
When the missing hydrogen has been reintroduced in polyunsaturated fats, you get trans fats. Trans fats can raise our cholesterol, increase our risk of cancer, lower cellular functioning, and decrease our immune system.
Holistic healing and nutrition therapy: The Mediterranean food plan
Studies suggest following a Mediterranean food plan that contains polyunsaturated fatty acids, specifically omega 3 fatty acids, is a supportive holistic approach to brain health and functioning as we age. This food plan supports an individual’s cultural heritage favoring local and seasonal food production at a greater focus.
Approximately 1.6 million Americans have inflammatory bowel disease (IBD), an increase of 200,000 since 2011. There are as many as 70,000 new cases of IBD that are diagnosed in the United States each year (7).
The Mediterranean food plan had the highest scientific citations in reducing risk of cardiovascular diseases and chronic diseases such as cancer, diabetes, and neurodegenerative diseases.
6 healthy fats to eat for holistic healing and nutrition
Shifting our thinking about fats is necessary. There are many different types of fats available that can positively and negatively affect our mental and physical health and wellness.
Choosing unrefined or cold pressed; unsaturated fats with omega 3 fatty acids are valuable to our health needs. Here is a list of healthy fats to support your brain and heart, boost your immune system, and promote healing in the digestive system:
- AVOCADOS: Great source of monounsaturated fats and fiber
- DARK CHOCOLATE: High fat content with antioxidant properties
- MEDIUM CHAIN TRIGLYCERIDE COCONUT OIL: Healthy saturated fats for digestion
- NUTS AND SEEDS: High content of essential fatty acids and protein
- OLIVE OIL: High source of monounsaturated fats, vitamin E, and antioxidants
- SALMON: Excellent source of omega 3 fatty acids EPA/DHA and vitamin D
Cannabis nutrition facts: healthy fats for the human endocannabinoid system
In recent years, the endocannabinoid system (ECS) was found to be of importance with food intake, metabolism, and energy balance (8). We know that cannabis supports a holistic approach to brain health as well as a holistic inflammation treatment.
The human endocannabinoid system has cannabinoid receptors, specifically CB1 and CB2, are found in many organs and tissues besides just the nervous system.
It is clear that the ECS in the brain shifts energy balance to energy storage, leading to fat accumulation (8). An over activation of the CB1 receptor can lead to overeating favoring food energy storage and obesity.
Certain families of polyunsaturated fats can contribute to neuropsychiatry diseases due to the desensitization of the CB1 receptors that are supportive in neuroprotection, appetite, memory and cognition.
As we continue to gather more research in the field of cannabis and the ECS it will be important to note how dietary fats alter the ECS activity when it comes to our intake of plant and vegetable oils.
The take home message for cannabis nutrition facts related to holistic healthy fats is choosing a well balanced ratio of your polyunsaturated fats consisting of omega 3 and omega 6 fatty acids.
The reintroduction of healthy fats and omega 3 fatty acids such as eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) and docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) that are abundant in Mediterranean food plans can help to restore the endocannabinoid system tone.
Sage tips for holistic healing and nutrition in healthy fats
- Try swapping out low fat for full fats by utilizing nuts, seeds, and oils
- Get creative and try a new recipe like our Herbal-Avocado-Egg Toast for incorporating healthy fats to eat for the week or month
- Create a well balanced meal for a holistic approach to brain health
- Incorporate healthy exercise and/ or holistic bodywork as a holistic inflammation treatment
- Try our 3 Day Fat Cleanse Meal Plan for a fresh clean start towards your journey
Don’t know where to start or have questions? Book a consultation with our integrative nurse coach or cannabis nurse and lets start a conversation on how we can to support your needs on your holistic healing nutrition therapy.
- Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. (n.d.). Cholesterol: September is National Cholesterol Education Month. Retrieved August 2019, from Centers for Disease Control and Prevention: https://www.cdc.gov/cholesterol/cholesterol_education_month.htm
- Chianese, R. C. (2018). Impact of Dietary Fats on Brain Functions. Current Nonpharmacology , 16, 1059-1085.
- Margolin, C. (2015, February). Holistic Wellness Through Food: An Eastern Approach to Healthy Eating. American Holistic Nurses Association Beginnings .
- Marx, W. M. (2017). Nutritional psychiatry: the present state of the evidence. Proceedings of the Nutrition Society , 76 (4), 427-436.
- National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health. (n.d.). 7 Things To Know About Omega-3 Fatty Acids. Retrieved August 2019, from National Institutes of Health: https://nccih.nih.gov/health/tips/omega
- National Institute of Mental Health. (n.d.). Mental Illness. Retrieved August 2019, from https://www.nimh.nih.gov/health/statistics/mental-illness.shtml
- Romagnolo, D. S. (2017). Mediterranean Diet and Prevention of Chronic Diseases. Nutrition Today , 52 (5), 208-219.
- Watkins, B. K. (2015). The endocannabinoid system: directing eating behavior and macronutrient metabolism. Frontiers in Psychology , 5.