What are omega-3 fatty acids?
In simple terms, omega-3 fatty acids are healthy fats are needed to help all the cells in your body function. There are three types:
- ·EPA (eicosapentaenoic acid). EPA is a “marine omega-3” because it’s found in fish.
- DHA (docosahexaenoic acid). DHA is also a marine omega-3 found in fish.
- ALA (alpha-linolenic acid). ALA is the form of omega-3 found in plants.
They are a vital part of your cell membranes, helping to provide structure and supporting interactions between cells. While they’re important to all your cells, including your heart, omega-3s are concentrated in high levels in brain cells, so if you want to improve brain function and mood, it makes sense to make sure you have the correct amount. However, your body can’t produce the amount of omega-3s you need to function, so you need to get them from the foods you eat, such as fatty fish (e.g. salmon, sardines, tuna and mackerel), flaxseed and chia seeds. Research shows different benefits for different amounts depending on your individual medical history, so it is important to ask your healthcare provider how much omega-3 you need.
How do they benefit your brain?
Omega-3 is one of the nutrients that effectively crosses the blood-brain barrier, so it has been used effectively to help various conditions, including the following:
Omega-3 is an essential component of serotonin, the neurotransmitter that has a key role in stabilizing our mood and feelings of wellbeing. Research suggests supplementation of acute long-chain omega-3s may decrease symptomology in people who feel depressed. There is a lot of research in this area and the results are very positive across the board.
There are so many studies investigating the potential benefits of omega-3s on cognitive function and the results are very promising. For example, one study found that omega-3 fatty acids boost blood flow in the brain, which is linked to better performance in cognitive tasks. The same study also found that elderly patients without dementia, who consumed oily fish containing omega-3 fatty acids, were less likely to suffer from cognitive decline than those who did not. Studies have also indicated that omega-3s can help improve attention span and focus. If you are someone who finds it difficult to concentrate or you get distracted easily, it would be worth your while seeing how you could incorporate omega-3s into your diet.
Omega-3 can play a big part in creating hormone balance, primarily because of their anti-inflammatory properties. When inflammation is elevated, it can overdrive the activity of an enzyme called aromatase. Aromatase converts testosterone into estrogen in both men and women. In this way, inflammation can lead to high levels of circulating estrogen, leading to a state of estrogen dominance. To make sure everything is nice and balanced, look to see how you can make omega-3s part of your health plan.
DHA is essential for the production of melatonin, which helps you sleep. Sleep is essential for all human function and performance, and without it you could encounter all sorts of issues, everything from irritability to weight gain. If you want to improve your sleep (and life overall!), get the correct amount of omega-3s.
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