THE RIGHT FAT DIET – Essential Fats for Brain and Nerve Function
By Udo Erasmus, Ph.D.
Has someone ever called you a fat-head? Well, they may have been right for two reasons. First, because our brain is 60% fat. Second, because in our fat phobia, we are depriving ourselves and our children of fats required for optimum intelligence, learning ability, emotional stability, and civilized behavior. The results hurt us, damage our children’s future, and can even kill us.
The right fats, those which our body cannot make but every cell in our body requires to function, and must therefore obtain from foods, consist of two essential fatty acids-omega 3 and omega 6-and of minor ingredients present in properly cold-pressed oils. The right fats spoil easily, so they have a short shelf life unless they are stored cold or, even preferable, frozen solid.
Realize that the low-fat diets that are the rage today are inspired by manufacturers who take the good fats out of foods for the sake of a long shelf life-a decision based on their convenience, not our health. This is because the essential fats spoil rapidly on exposure to light, air (oxygen), and heat above 150°C (300°F), and because the “minor” ingredients present in good oils also shorten shelf life. These are a nightmare for manufacturers who do not want to give them the care they need to remain fresh and right for health.
Don’t trust the “experts” who espouse low fat diets, either. These experts have failed to understand the difference between:
- essential fats in the right ratio of omega 3 to omega 6 (we use a ratio of 2:1 because it consistently gives us superior results in health maintenance) made with health in mind (pressed at low temperature under exclusion of light and oxygen), packaged with care (brown glass, in a box to cut out all light), shelf-dated (3-5 years frozen solid-the glass won’t break, because unlike water, which expands on freezing, oils shrink when they get cold; 6 months closed and refrigerated; 4 to 8 weeks after opening), stored with care (cold or frozen), and used with care (added to cold, warm, or steamed-poached-boiled-pressure cooked foods, but never used for frying); and
- oils processed in destructive ways, which makes them toxic and increases cancer and cardiovascular disease-oils treated with sodium hydroxide and phosphoric acid to remove minor ingredients that are good for health but shorten shelf life; then bleached to remove color, for improved shelf stability but resulting in rancidity (bad smell and taste in the oil); then heated to frying temperatures to blow off (de-odorize) the rancidity. The former oils are good for health. The latter are detrimental. The low-fat “experts” have not examined the damage done by the destructive processing, and wrongly blame the oils.
A key point needs to be made again and again: There are two causes for fat-related illnesses:
- Most health problems that we blame on fats are actually the result of destructive processing methods and the toxic molecules they create from the right fats.
- The rest of the problems blamed on fats are the result of not getting enough of the right fats in our diet:
- omega 3 and 6 essential fats in the right ratio; and
- “minor ingredients” with major health benefits.
Hence, the importance of avoiding the low fat, no fat, high fat, or fake fat diets, and embracing the RIGHT FAT DIET™.
Having briefly explained the difference between wrong, low, and right fat diets, let’s return to the brain. What can The Right Fat Diet™ do for the brain?
The effects of lack of “minor” ingredients on brain function have not yet, but should be, researched. But research has established that when the essential fats are inadequately supplied, behavior changes. This is true for omega 3 deficiency, and also true for omega 6 deficiency. Both are present in the brain, in a one to one ratio. What kind of changes?
Essential fats can have a remarkable calming effect on skittish horses. Also dogs and cats. And probably a whole range of other animals. There’s little research on this effect in animals, but we get consistent results, using essential fatty acid-rich products specifically designed for nutritional enhancement. In adult humans, we get consistent reports of greater calmness, being less easily stressed, and dealing with stress better.
Consistent feedback from relieved parents using an oil called Udo’s Choice Perfected Oil Blend, as well as research, have established that essential fats help hyperactive kids settle down. Studies carried out in students and in violent criminals show that they become calmer when the essential fats required by their brain are supplied. A strong correlation between hyperactivity, juvenile delinquency, and criminal behavior has been observed for years. It is a crime to calm ADHD kids down with Ritalin. These kids are not suffering from drug deficiency and, according to Fred Baughman, MD, Ritalin may lead to brain atrophy. On low fat and junk food diets, the main missing ingredients are the essential fats the brain requires to function normally.
Ability to focus.
The feedback comes, again from parents, as well as from athletes. The ability to focus is one of the most important factors determining consistently optimum performance in high-pressure situations. Lose the focus, and performance suffers.
A study shows that juvenile delinquents non-responsive to counseling become counselable when they get the essential fats the brain needs to function normally. Could this also be true for other non-responsive individuals? How about sexual predators? Stalkers? Career criminals?
The research is not yet in, but it makes sense that if the brain is not made right, it will not function right, leading to socially unacceptable or even stomach-turning criminal behavior.
Our feedback, using Udo’s Choice Perfected Oil Blend that I formulated for nutritional work with people, is that essential fats elevate mood and lift depression. Research confirms this finding. The essential fats are required in the brain’s ability to lift us out of pessimism and toward optimism. Schizophrenia? Studies have determined that schizophrenics hallucinate less when the essential fats that the brain requires are provided. Alzheimer’s and Senility? Essential fats bring improvement in degeneration of brain function that occurs with aging. Some patients, according to feedback we’ve received from users, have become able to communicate with family members again. Research studies have confirmed such improvement.
Studies in animals and in humans show that epilepsy is often food allergy related. Foods can also trigger violent mood swings (including those seen in premenstrual tension syndrome), and food allergies or infections can also bring on dramatic behavioral changes. Inflammation is often due to incomplete protein digestion, which leads to inflammation, which leads to immune system involvement, which leads to anti-bodies and more inflammation, which leads to leaky gut, which leads to allergies and more inflammation, potentially in many different parts of the body. Essential fats, given in the right ratio (twice more omega 3s than omega 6s), have anti-inflammatory effects, and help to prevent leaky gut and the consequences of undigested foods setting off allergic responses. Digestive enzymes rich in protease are also helpful in such situations, because they help to ensure complete digestion of the proteins that can cause these problems.
Recent studies have shown that the unborn child draws, from its mother’s body, substantial amounts of the essential fats required to build its brain, depleting the mother. With each child, the mother becomes more depleted, because women in North America have no reliable source of omega 3 essential fats in their diets. Each child gets less of the essential brain fats than the child before it. Researchers suggest that this is the reason why:
- in large families, the younger children often have developmental and behavioral problems, while the older ones score higher on intelligence tests;
- mothers suffer from post-partum depression;
- why women suffer a far higher incidence of depression, fibromyalgia, lupus, and multiple sclerosis than men do.
The researchers suggest that it is even more critical for women to supplement with essential fats than it is for men, both for the sake of the woman’s health and for the health of her children. Some years ago, a study showed that a mother rat deprived of omega 3 fatty acids, produces offspring with permanent learning disabilities. Although the brain can recover some of its capacity even as an adult when the essential brain fats are optimized, it is likely that insufficient supply of essential brain fats leads to irreversible sub-optimal brain development.
Some of the damage done to the unborn by alcohol, which interferes with essential fat metabolism, is known to be irreversible. One reason why alcohol leads to bad moods is because booze depletes the brain essential fats.
Breast-fed babies have more essential brain fats in their body than bottle-fed ones. They also do better on tests, including reading, sentence completion, visual interpretation, non-verbal skills, and math. When people ask me when a child should begin to get the essential brain fats, my answer is: Two years before it is born. In other words, the mother should be making sure that she gets optimum essential fats a year or two before the child is even conceived.
Learning and intelligence.
We have seen several babies born to mothers who optimized their intake of essential fats-usually about 2 to 3 tablespoons of the oil blend we work with or whatever amount is required to make the mother’s skin velvety. Her requirement during pregnancy and breast-feeding will be higher than at other times. The children born to mothers optimizing their essential fat intake are born more alert and more inquisitive (an early sign of intelligence). They are also generally more healthy, calmer, and less given to temper tantrums. A study that measured the IQ of 7 and 8 year old children compared those getting essential fats from breast milk and those on formula lacking these fats, and found that breast-fed children averaged 8 IQ points higher. A good reason for breast-feeding when possible, or adding the missing essential fats to formula, which has also been shown to be effective.
Research shows that even adults learn faster on optimum essential brain fats. The neural cones which grow and connect to other nerves in response to learning situations, grow faster when the essential brain fats are present in optimum quantities.
Our brain, the fat-richest organ of the body contains 60% fat. It is also the organ richest in essential fats. It contains omega 3 and omega 6, the two essential fatty acids, in larger amounts than any other tissue in the body, and contains 5 times more omega 3s than red blood cells. While the omega 3s appear to be more important for improvements in brain function, mood, learning, and behavior than the omega 6s, it is important that both be present adequately, because omega 6 deficiency also leads to behavioral changes. Do not neglect the omega 6s. Oils used for the long term should contain enough omega 6s to prevent omega 6 deficiency. Our oil blend is twice as rich in omega 3s as omega 6s. This ratio reflects the greater benefits of the omega 3s but contains enough omega 6s to prevent omega 6 deficiency.
Our recommendation for the basic food foundation in essential fats is to use enough Udo’s Choice Perfected Oil Blend, mixed in foods-but never fried-to make skin smooth and velvety. That might be 2 to 5 tablespoons per day. We need more in winter, less in summer. The oil goes well with all food groups: vegetables, starches, proteins, and fruit. And if you haven’t thought of it, try mixing the oil blend in fruit juice. The taste is quite superb!
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About Udo Erasmus, Ph.D.
Udo Erasmus is an internationally recognized authority on the role of fats, oils, and cholesterol in human health. He received his Bachelor of Science degree in Honours Zoology with a major in Psychology from the University of British Columbia, followed by graduate studies in biochemistry and genetics. Several years of research in the field of nutrition led to him write his first book, Fats and Oils, which earned him a Ph.D. in nutrition and was later expanded and republished as Fats That Heal Fats That Kill.