The Importance of Brain Development
Our brains are important and we can’t get much done in our busy lives without them! Do you often feel like you forget things easy? Lead a life with a foggy and spaced out brain? Lose attention quickly? Feel depressed? Many Americans lead their lives feeling this way on a daily basis and have accepted it.
Often times, these imbalances can be associated with nutritional deficiencies. More specifically, an omega 3 imbalance. DHA or docosahexaenoic acid, is an important polyunsaturated fat (PUFA). As an omega-3 fatty acid it is essential for brain development at all stages of life. In fact, it makes up about 30% of the brain. DHA in the diet is essential because of its ability to support functioning in cell signaling as well as the structural component of the adult brain!
The reason I am focusing on it today, is because research shows that DHA can improve cognition, neuroplasticity and promote production of new neurons. The simple fact that this nutrient and beneficial fat can improve memory is nearly mind blowing. Our brains are precious and with the prevalence of things like dementia and Alzheimer's Disease, it's important we take care of them.
Multiple studies show that just eating one fish dinner a week, reduced risk of Alzheimer’s by 60%. Unlike EPA, another omega-3 fat, DHA provides a very strong protective factor for brain health and memory.
You can see that taking care of your brain is as important as a daily workout.
DHA Is Important At All Ages
We all know that the body goes through a significant period of growth during our infant and teenage years, and that is held true with brain development as well. Brain development begins as early as pregnancy and continues into the first two years of birth and into later years of life.
That being said, diet plays a significant role in distributing an adequate amount of DHA to the developing infant. This means the mother must have enough DHA in her diet to pass on to the child.
From a young age, it is recommended that children are taking in enough DHA for better cognitive and visual functioning of the brain.
As we move through life into our adult years, our brain is still developing, so it is equally as important to consume enough DHA. Due to the western diet, adults are just not consuming the recommended daily amount of DHA that they should be. Most adults are only taking in around 11 mg per day which is significantly low. The average recommended amount for adults of DHA + EPA omega-3 fats combined is a minimum of 250-500 mg daily.
Does this make sense? Can you see how depleted most individuals actually are?
Food Sources of DHA
One of the main sources of DHA via the diet is fatty fishes which include salmon, herring,sardines, and halibut. Do you want to know why these fishes are considered a rich source of DHA? What most people might not know is that the algae that is in fish food is what actually makes fish have such a high amount of DHA. What happens is that when the fish consume the algae, the EPA and DHA from the algae is absorbed into the tissue of the fish and then humans eat it. Pretty cool right?
Remember the quality of the fish is crucial in receiving the health benefits. Be sure to purchase wild caught.
Check out this tasty salmon recipe that you can make at home. It’s easy and this brain food will keep you feeling sharp, full of energy and boost your mood!
Honey Chipotle Salmon
4 wild caught salmon fillets ( 4-5 ounces each skinless)
3 tbsp honey
2 tbsp olive oil
4 tbsp chipotle chili powder
1 tbsp garlic powder
1 tbsp onion powder
1 tsp paprika
1 tbsp Italian seasoning
Sea salt and pepper
Garnish with fresh scallions, chopped and lemon wedges
Preheat the oven to 450° F. In a glass baking dish, lightly grease with avocado or coconut oil.
In medium size bowl combine honey, olive oil, sea salt, chipotle chili powder, garlic and onion powder, paprika and Italian season.
Place the salmon on a plate and spoon the mixture over fillets, spreading it to coat each piece of salmon evenly. Then place each fillet on baking sheet about an inch apart from each other.
Bake salmon for about 8-12 minutes or until it flakes with a fork.
Remove from oven and garnish with fresh scallions and serve with lemon slices.