Nutrition and Brain Function: Fats, the Good and the Bad

We often tend to think of fat as the big taboo when it comes to nutrition. The fact is however that, although we need to be weary of certain kinds, fats are essential building blocks for healthy brains. This can be seen in the fact that almost two thirds of the weight of the human brain is made up out of fat! The two main functions that fats perform in the brain are:

• Membrane formation: The neurons in your brain are surrounded by a double layered membrane made up out of fatty acids. These membranes are vital for proper brain function are they control the entry of the good (micronutrients, glucose and oxygen) and the exit of the bad (waste products)
• Protection: Neurons are covered by a protective sheath called Myelin. This is made up out of 30% protein and 70% fat.

This all means that to build a brain your will need a lot of the right kind of fatty acids. Some of these can be manufactured by the body but others have to be derived from your diet (they are often called ‘Essential Fatty Acids’). The most important among these are: