Brains are mostly made up of fat. The protective sheath of neurons is 70 percent fat. Neuron membranes are also made up of “a thick double-layer of fatty acid molecules,” according to the Franklin Institute Online. Neurons are cells dedicated to brain communication, and human behavior and mood are determined by their activity. When the myelin sheath is weak due to malformation or disease, much can go wrong with the brain. Although there’s currently no cure for most conditions and diseases caused by myelin sheath deterioration, you can promote myelin sheath health by eating healthy foods and including plenty of omega fatty acids in your diet.
Maintain a balanced diet and eat regularly scheduled meals throughout the day. “Keep an even supply of food in your system,” recommends the North Seattle Community College Health-Medical Department. Avoid sugar and processed foods. A brain-healthy diet can aid in deterring depression, ADHD, stroke, cancer, Parkinson’s, Alzheimer’s, and other diseases and conditions related to myelin sheath deterioration, according to North Seattle Community College Health-Medical Department and the Franklin Institute Online.
Eat fish at least twice a week and increase your intake of other foods containing omega-3 fatty acids. Keep in mind that human brains are composed mostly of essential omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids, but people tend to eat more foods containing mostly omega-6 fatty acids. Balance omega fatty acid intake by eating a variety of healthy foods. The same foods that make up a heart-healthy diet also make up a brain-healthy diet, according to the Franklin Institute Online.
Choose fish high in omega-3 fatty acids to include in meals. Eat fatty fish, such as mackerel, salmon, herring, sardines, trout and tuna, for high concentrations of omega-3 fatty acids, recommends the American Heart Association. Take fish oil supplements to ensure that you’re getting enough omega-3 fatty acids in your diet, but keep in mind that it’s always healthier to obtain vital nutrients from foods.
Add more omega-9 fatty acids to your diet as well for circulatory health by consuming plenty of nuts, olive oil and avocados in your meals. These omega-9-rich foods provide oleic acid, a common type of fatty acid found in myelin, according to the Franklin Institute Online. Although omega-9 is normally produced by the body, you may not get enough omega-9 if you don’t eat plenty of foods rich in omega-3, according to the Global Healing Center.
Snack on nuts, such as pecans, almonds, peanuts and macadamias, for higher levels of oleic acid, according to the Franklin Institute Online. Make guacamole dip, use avocados in salads and other dishes, and incorporate olive oil into recipes or make dressings with it to get more oleic acid in your meals.
Eliminate man-made trans fats from your diet. According to the Franklin Institute Online, "trans fats change brain cells,” and foods such as margarine, french fries and potato chips contain partially hydrogenated oil, i.e. trans fatty acids, which “disrupt communication in your brain.”
Always refer to local and national government advisories for updated information on contaminated fish.
- Franklin Institute Online: Human Brain Nourishment Fats
- North Seattle Community College: Diet and the Mind
- American Heart Association: Fish and Omega-3 Fatty Acids
- Global Healing Center: Health Benefits of Omega 3, 6, 9 Fatty Acids and EPA and DHA
- MadSci Network: How Does Nutrition/Junk Food Affect the Myelin Sheath?