Literally – your brain is mostly made up of fat. 60% of its dry weight is fat; 20% of the nerve cell membranes in your brain are made up from Omega 3 fatty acids. The synapses (junctions) where nerve cells connect with other nerve cells are made up of around 60% fatty acids.
Omega 3 DHA is very flexible; it makes the nerve cell membranes elastic and fluid, so signals (communicated by neurotransmitters such as serotonin and dopamine) can pass through it efficiently. If you don’t have enough “good fats” in your brain, the signals can’t pass through properly. Decreased serotonin predicts an increased risk of suicide, depression and violent and impulsive behaviour; your memory is also likely to suffer, and slowly, the rest of your bodily functions will start to happen less efficiently.
Our bodies don’t make Omega 3 fatty acids naturally; we have to ingest them, through foods like avocados, fish and nuts. As well as making sure we get enough Omega 3’s, we also have to watch our intake of Omega 6’s. These fatty acids are found in processed foods and vegetable oils, and are believed to use the same metabolic pathways as Omega 3’s. In very simple terms, if we’re ingesting too many Omega 6’s, they push the Omega 3’s out of our brains and your brain is forced to use their more rigid, less fluid structure instead (reducing function).
If you’ve noticed that you’re always irritable or unable to control your emotions, it’s well worth looking at your diet. If not for yourself, do it for your children – if a mother’s dopamine and serotonin levels are compromised, the architecture of the child’s brain can be irreversibly affected.