I’m going to lay it down: you’re a giant fat head. Me too 🙂
You see our brain, it’s mostly fat. 60% to be exact.
And our brain plays a big role in our menstrual health.The hypothalamus and pituitary gland located in the brain are two of the main components that make up our hormonal system. Throughout the monthly cycle the hypothalamus and pituitary glands are active and instrumental in ensuring everything functions properly and on time.
It all begins with the hypothalamus. Its role is akin to the conductor of a beautiful symphony (in this case the hormonal system) as it secretes important hormones and signals other organs and neurotransmitters to continue the process. The pituitary gland is also called the master gland of the hormonal system. It is here that two other key hormones are secreted. The pituitary gland also relays important messages to other players in the hormonal system. The pituitary gland has a glandular connection with the pineal gland. According to Vedic scriptures the pineal gland is the location of the third eye chakra, the seat of intuition, awareness and inner wisdom.
When this part of the brain is under nourished we also lose access to our spiritual wisdom.
Its not just the hypothalamus that needs its fuel through fats, it is also the hormones themselves, that are made up of cholesterol (the good kind, known as HDL).
So if we don’t get enough of the good fats, our health and emotional temperament are affected.
Lack of sufficient fats can cause a host of mental health disorders such as hyperactivity, depression, schizophrenia and yes crankiness and irritability. When under-nourished, our brains prioritises the most important functions. Functions such as tolerance, flexibility slip to the bottom of the list, hence our PMS symptoms often include mood swings, irritation and impatient. I noticed very drastic shifts in my emotional health after, being vegetarian for 16 years, I began eating fish. Right away my uncontrollable and unpredictable temper got better and I found myself far less cranky before and during my period. My skin cleared and my hair and nails looked healthier too.
Not all oils and fats are created equal. Heavily processed, hydrogenated, “trans” fats and oils that are used in prepared, packaged foods can be extremely damaging to the body. They disrupt communication, setting the stage for cellular degeneration and diminished mental performance. However, fats and oils from whole foods and other high-quality sources can steady our metabolism, keep hormone levels even, nourish our skin, hair and nails and provide lubrication to keep the body functioning fluidly. Our bodies also need fat for insulation and to protect and hold our organs in place.
A healthy percentage of high-quality fat in a meal satisfies and leaves feelings of energy, fulfilment and warmth. When there are excess fats and oils in the diet, especially heavily processed fats, symptoms can include weight gain, skin breakouts, high blood pressure, liver strain and an overall feeling of mental, physical and emotional heaviness. Signs of insufficient high-quality fats are brittle hair and nails, dry skin, hunger after meals and feeling cold.
Good fats that the brain and nervous system need are called essential fatty acids or EFAs, also called Omega 3 and Omega 6 fats. Common sources of these fats are eggs, wild deep-sea cold-water fish, flax, pumpkin and sunflower seeds or butters and organic meats (in small quantities). Other sources of good fats are coconut milk and oil, olive oil and avocados.
Here are the many sources of healthy fats and oils:
- For sautéing and baking, try butter, ghee (clarified butter) or coconut oil because they do not break down when used at high temperatures.
- When sautéing foods at moderate temperatures, try organic extra virgin olive oil.
- Oils like flaxseed, sesame, toasted sesame, walnut and pumpkin seed are best used unheated in sauces or dressings on top of salads, veggies or grains.
- Other healthy fats are found in whole nuts and seeds and in their butters like almond butter or tahini.
- Whole foods such as avocados, olives and coconuts are great sources of healthy fat, along with wild salmon and omega-3 and omega-6 organic eggs.
Experiment with these healthy fat sources and see which work best for you and leave you satisfied.
When selecting oils, buy the highest-quality organic products you can afford, since cooking oils are the backbone of so many dishes. Good words to look for on the label are organic, first-pressed, cold-pressed, extra-virgin and unrefined. Words to avoid are expeller-pressed, refined and solvent extracted.
Here are some recipes from the blog using healthy fats:
Coconut oil: Easy Breezy Fat Burning Chocolate Recipe
Ghee/clarified butter: Yummy Yellow Squash Sauté
Butter/olive oil: Quick and Creamy Zucchini Soup
Nut butter: Vegan and Alkaline Almond Butter
Are you feeding your brain with enough good fats? What’s one easy way you can add them to your diet right away?