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The Real Happy Meal: Your Brain on Fatty Acids

Posted in Food Policy,Food Safety,Our Blog on February 28, 2019

Ignore the golden arches and value menus and focus closer to home. Take yourself through your front door, up the stairs, and onto your couch, then look even closer than that. It’s not your Netflix account or your phone that’ll give you what you want. It’s something else that you take with you on the daily grind. Ready for the answer? Brace yourself… It’s like those 1980’s DARE commercials. This is your brain on Fatty Acids.


The key to happiness is in your mind. Whoa, wait, don’t leave yet. I know how that sounds. I rolled my eyes just typing it, but I don’t mean it the way a motivational speaker might. This isn’t a lesson on being Zen. No, you don’t need to search Enya on Spotify, burn incense, or take deep breaths sitting cross-legged on the floor. This isn’t about an out-of-body experience, and you don’t need to spend a lifetime becoming “one with yourself.” This is a pinpoint lesson on how to improve your mood without the philosophical goals. Hey, I understand, I’m not the “look-deep-within-yourself” type either.

With that said, let’s get to it. Today, we are going teach you how to feed your brain. No, I mean, literally feed your brain.

Here’s the thing, your brain eats too. That’s why we should look at happy meals a different way. Sure, a fast-food chain may come to your mind but forget about that for a minute and pay attention. Think of it this way instead, happy meals are not from a drive thru, but are a destination to happiness. Deep, right? Are you impressed? Don’t be, that’s not the cool part. It’s your brain that deserves the applause.

Your brain is incredible, and its also made out of things you’ve already heard of before you read this article. If you remove the moisture from your brain, you’ll be left with lipids, proteins, micronutrients, glucose, and amino acids. Each one of these affects your well-being in its own glorious way, and what you eat directly attributes to the balance of the brain. You can course-correct your brain with each course of your meal. Basically, a variety of foods balances the brain, while choosing carefully can alter your moods.

Your brain wants those lipids/fats.

Fats like your uber-important fatty acids, such as Omegas 3 and 6, are the building blocks of cell membranes. Get this, your body can create all the fatty acids it needs, except for these two super stars. The only way to obtain these bold buddies is by consumption. Why is that important? Well, Omegas 3 and 6 help prevent degenerative properties of the brain. Sometimes its tough to look to the future in the now, but what if I told you these Omega’s (especially Omega three) can help you ward off depression? Well, current research is saying that these beautiful components are heavy hitters in the treatment of depression and some psychiatric disorders. Seeds, fatty fish, nuts, hemp, canola and walnut oils are all sources of the Omega’s that you need to keep your chin up throughout the day.

Knock, knock. Package Delivery of Proteins and Amino Acids.

Here’s a fun way to understand it. Pretend your brain is the political power of the body, like the Governor. The towns are named Moodville, Sleep City, Weightatopia, and Energy Town. Now, the governor can only give the town what is available in resources. The less resources, the more problematic for the population. Nutrients can directly dictate the behavior of the townsfolk, like a tax refund or a free movie night at the park.

Each day the governor takes inventory and distributes these nutrients throughout the cities. He does this by dictating orders into a note and sending it via messengers. These messengers are called Neurotransmitters. These guys are chemical reactions that transfer information, or impulses, from the nerve fiber to other structures, like the muscle fibers. The problem is, these messengers need Amino Acids to make the trip. Amino Acids are the precursor to Neurotransmitters. Without them, you are killing the messenger. So, because you are a good body, you want your delivery-trucks filled. This means you need to make sure the Amino Acids don’t get stuck in traffic in the first place.

Nutrients from foods you eat are already on their way to work to deliver Norepinephrine, Dopamine, and Serotonin (all mood affecters) to the brain. You need to sort your traffic onto different routes. Luckily, each food you eat takes a different lane. Some foods are carpooling, others prefer the bike lane, and some take public transport. That’s why a wide variety of food disperses the traffic and prevents traffic jams. This way your Neurotransmitters can deliver all the governor’s messages, like Protein for a boost of energy. The more energy, the better the mood. Are you with me? Great, let’s keep going.

Micronutrients Military and Glucose Gas

We have our city, but what about our defenses? Micronutrients like antioxidants are on the front lines fighting any threats to your brain cells, giving your brain the chance to work without distraction. Micronutrients are doing more than guarding the outer edges. These good guys are patrolling the streets and balancing nutrients to assist your neurotransmitters. The micronutrients Vitamin B1 and Folic Acid are required to metabolize Serotonin. It won’t matter if the city gets the Serotonin messages if they don’t have the tools to put it to use. Homocysteine is an Amino Acid, which as we’ve talked about isn’t a bad thing. However, it also needs the counterbalance of micronutrient Vitamin B12 or the neighborhood could take a hit, like a snow storm in Texas. Is that a clear picture? Good, stay with me.

Glucose is the fuel that keeps everything running. It’s the generator to your power. A steady production of fuel is necessary for your cities to retain energy. When the power plants are not running, your frontal lobes are the first to take the hit. That’s why a major symptom of nutrient deficiency is cognitive malfunction. When you are running out of gas, your mental and physical reflexes slow. Think about it like biking uphill, or a long drive out of town. You might have excitement from adrenaline at first, but eventually it’ll be up to your body’s ability to keep on trucking, and without your brain things will get… grumpy. Your brain uses about twenty percent of your energy. That’s more than any other organ in the body. With that in mind, its not an out-of-the-box idea to keep your brain fueled.

You’ve got an elaborate world inside of you, but if you want your body to be smog-free and a growing utopia of good moods, then you’ve got to feed the machine what it needs. Think of it this way, with a happier mood the things you enjoy could be even better. You don’t need to give up your streaming subscription, but maybe, just maybe, that comedy you’re watching now will be funnier if your mind can deliver a good mood with it. So, while you binge on your favorites, eat the right foods, too.

By: Heaven Bassett, Contributing Writer (Non-Lawyer)