I have a little pop quiz for you… What’s the 5th leading cause of death in the US today?
You might think it’s cancer, or heart disease, or stroke. And those are all good guesses, but they are within the top 4. You might think it’s diabetes, and that’s a good guess too, but it’s number 6 on the list.
The 5th leading cause of death is Alzheimer’s disease, according to the Centers for Disease Control (and note – some other sources I have read is saying it has jumped up to #3, right behind cancer and heart disease!).
You might not have heard this because it’s only recently that it has claimed SO many lives. Rates climb year after year. In fact, between 2015 and 2016, deaths from Alzheimer’s rose by 5% in one year!
And it’s not just in the US. The World Health Organization predicts that based on current rates, adults living with forms of dementia will increase from the current 50 million people to 82 million by 2030. That’s a huge, scary increase!
We have never been sicker as a nation, as chronic degenerative disease is
skyrocketing and becoming a way of life.
A November 4, 2015, article in the San Francisco Chronicle stated that half the people who reach age 85 over the next decade will develop Alzheimer’s, the most common form of dementia (WOW!).
Meanwhile, so many people are dying of cancer and heart disease, they aren’t even going to make it to 85!
When you add up dementia, depression, anxiety, and mental illness, brain health problems are an epidemic that we have to address, both as a society and as individuals.
I was JUST featured in the powerful docu-series LIVE LONGER FEEL BETTER, which is about your longevity, and preventing dementia, depression, and diabetes. Created by my good friends Trevor Long and Michael Beattie, their purpose was to give you hope, and the tools and strategies you need to not EVER let it get to this point.
I was so honored to be a featured expert in episodes 1-6 (8-episode docu-series), as I shared my knowledge on what you SHOULD be doing to bullet-proof your body and brain from chronic inflammation, toxicity, acidity, and oxidative stress.
And today, I’m going to share one of those important topics with you - why and how your brain NEEDS fat to stay healthy and what you can do to protect one of your most precious resources – your mind.
This is the first in a 2-part series about brain health. Next week, I’ll share with you the top foods and supplements for optimizing your brain health.
Fat Is Brain Fuel
I’ve talked before about how there are fats that HEAL, and fats that KILL. And how most people are burning SUGAR as their primary source of fuel, but sugar is a dirty burning fuel.
The body has stores of 160,000 usable calories for every day energy.
And out of those calories, your cells and brain can only use two things for energy – SUGAR (carbohydrates) or FAT…
Of those total calorie reserves or available stores of energy, only 5% is stored as sugar, and the other 95% is stored as FAT.
And we wonder why we can’t get rid of stubborn belly fat! Too many of us are burning the wrong fuel!
Why is sugar only 5%, you may ask?
Because energy from sugar is designed for one thing and one thing only: the FIGHT OR FLIGHT response. If I see a saber tooth tiger, I’m in danger, and I have only two options – stay and fight, or run like heck!
And for either option, you don’t want to use slow-burning fat. I want to burn sugar, which is quick energy to run to safety.
But here’s the problem. Most people are chronically stressed, living in fight or flight mode 24/7, without a saber tooth tiger in sight.
Today most people have lost their ability to efficiently use fat as an energy source. These people are what I call SUGAR BURNERS!
As you burn sugar, what do you think you’ll crave? SUGAR.
It’s a viscous cycle. So what’s the solution?
Eat more fat! Fat should be the primary source of fuel for your body and your brain as well.
In fact, your brain is made up of 60% fat. And we know from an abundance of research that the brain prefers fat (specifically known as ketone bodies) as its fuel source.
What happens with Alzheimer’s patients is that their brains are literally starving. Again, humans either need glucose (sugar) or ketones (fat) as brain fuel. Their brains have stopped producing insulin, and brains in that state can no longer convert glucose into energy. If they are also starved for good fat, their brain function is impaired and they start to lose memory and brain function.
The research doesn’t stop there. Studies of patients in mental hospitals and young adults at ultra-high risk for mental illness have found the average ratio of Omega-6:Omega-3 fatty acids to be 70:1, which means they are severely deficient in good fats and have an over-abundance of inflammatory fats. We’ll talk more about this ratio in a moment, so keep reading…
Scientific research also demonstrates that children born to women who have sufficient levels of omega-3 fatty acids have fewer allergies, less eczema, learn better, and are less likely to have ADD or ADHD.
So what should you eat to avoid these mental health problems? Good healthy fats! The fuel your brain is craving!
More specifically, the right balance of omega fats to keeps brain inflammation in check.
The average American has 19 times more pro-inflammatory omega-6 fats than anti-inflammatory omega-3 fats in their system at any given time. In many cases, it’s even 25 times more omega-6, and I’ve seen 50 times more, and even 88:1!
Understanding the Numbers:
The Omega-6/Omega-3 ratio needs to be ideally 1:1, and no more than 3:1 - Here is what the research shows:
- A ratio under 4:1 is IDEAL
- A ratio above 4/1 is a problem
- A ratio above 10/1 is a serious problem, unacceptable
- A ratio above 15/1 is a critical problem
If you would like to get your ratio tested, you can do so with our cutting-edge AT-HOME Omega-3 Acid Index Test Kit…
So, an imbalanced fatty acid ratio is a recipe for brain inflammation, which can lead to issues as simple as a little brain fog or forgetfulness, or much more serious like Alzheimer’s, ADHD, or depression.
The only good news in all of this is that you can easily keep it in check by taking a good quality omega-3 supplement, eating plenty of omega-3-rich foods, and keeping the amount of omega-6 foods you eat in check.
Eat fewer omega-6 fats:
- Hydrogenated vegetable oil
- Canola oil
- Soybean oil
- Safflower oil
- Sunflower oil
- Grapeseed oil (the worst omega-6:omega-3 ratio out of any food or oil)
- Animal protein including poultry, unless it’s grass-fed
- Processed foods like cereal, crackers, and chips
- Sesame and pumpkin seeds
Eat foods rich in omega-3 and other good fats:
- Wild-caught Alaskan or Pacific salmon
- Wild-caught Atlantic mackerel
- Chia seeds
- Hemp seeds
- White fish
- Avocados and avocado oil
- Extra virgin olive oil
- Black cumin seed oil
- Coconut oil
- MCT oil
- Macadamia nut oil
Now make sure with the fish listed above that you’re eating wild-caught fish because if it’s farm-raised, it’s likely fed corn and soy, which are both loaded with pro-inflammatory omega-6 fats, so you aren’t doing yourself any favors with that.
But you still have to supplement with omega-3!
I recommend you eat fish in moderation, in part because of mercury levels. Unless you’re eating wild-caught, high in omega-3 fish 3 meals a day, you’re not getting enough to go without supplementing. Myself, I eat salmon a couple times a month, but I take 3 softgels of our Alkamind Daily Omega-3 every day.
My wife Chelsea is a vegetarian (and an alkaline rock star) with one exception, she consumes 3 softgels of Daily Omega-3 every day. Why does she make this exception? She UNDERSTANDS that to be a healthy vegetarian she needs omega-3s.
There is not a single vegetarian source of EPA, which is the part of fish oil that fights inflammation. If you are vegan or vegetarian, you NEED to get this point.
I test THOUSANDS of people, many vegans and vegetarians, and I hate to say this (because I have SUCH HUGE respect for their philosophy for animals), the vegetarians ALWAYS have the highest rates of inflammation!
It’s because they replace animal protein for carbs, and they consume so MANY of these pro-inflammatory Omega-6 fats!
You can get omega-3 from chia, flax, and hemp, but it’s ALA, not EPA (what you get from fish oil directly), and it must be converted to the EPA and DHA you need. Well, guess how much converts? Less than 1%.
By the way, this is also why I’m not a fan of krill oil. While its phospholipids are more bioavailable, it has a very poor ratio of EPA to DHA and both are at very low levels, so I’ve calculated you need to take about 40 softgels daily to equal 3 of our Daily Omega-3!
This is why the single most important supplement for a vegan or vegetarian is fish oil. You need omega-3s to reduce brain inflammation. So the first takeaway is if you’re NOT taking fish oil, that is your single biggest health mistake.
The second big takeaway you need to know is this… Your fish oil may be misleading you.
I never anticipated launching a fish oil product until I wrote my book, Get Off Your Acid: 7 Steps in 7 Days to Lose Weight, Fight Inflammation, and Reclaim Your Health and Energy. In all my research, I realized that there wasn’t a single brand that had the IDEAL ratio of EPA to DHA (2:1) that your body and brain needs to be healthy in a concentrated form.
So I went ahead and made it myself. And that’s what Alkamind Daily Omega-3 is. We use a process called Molecular Distillation, where we TRIPLE organically purify our oil. Almost every company on the market only does this once. I chose to triple purify for 2 reasons...
- To get out every single heavy metal and impurity
- To concentrate the fish oil, so with Daily Omega-3, you need to TAKE LESS to GET MORE!
If you look at the label on your current fish oil and calculate serving size and milligrams of the oil, you’ll find you need to take on average between 8-12 soft gels to get the 3,000mg you need!
With Alkamind Daily Omega-3 you only need to take 3 softgels daily, and again, that’s with the ideal ratio of EPA to DHA. Plus it’s heavy metal free and guaranteed for potency and freshness, so no fishy taste.
When it comes to omega supplements, not all are created equal. You get what you pay for, and sad to say, you pay for what you get.
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