What Type of Fat is the Brain Made of?

This article contains information on “What Type of Fat is the Brain Made of?” It also includes information on what kinds of fat we should eat to make the brain function more efficiently. In the end, the article highlights some interesting facts about the brain. In the end, the article answers some frequently asked questions about the brain.

What Type of Fat is the Brain Made of?

About 60% of the brain matter is made up of fat. This fat helps in creating cell membranes in the body. Good fat, also known as omega-3 fatty acids are the fats in the brain which help in creating cell membranes in the body. 

If an individual’s diet consists of bad fats it can result in the brain making low-quality nerve cell membranes that do not function well. Thus, it is important to ensure that your diet consists of all the essential nutrients and good fats to enable your brain to make higher-quality nerve cell membranes (Innis, 2008).

Higher quality nerve cell membranes make your brain more efficient and help it in functioning at its peak capacity. Along with good fats, magnesium is also an important mineral when it comes to the development of nerve cells as well as enabling optimal functioning of the same.

Hence, it is extremely important for you to choose foods that offer you fatty acids for your brain and body to use up. However, we must be cautious when consuming good fats as they have double the calories when compared to one gram of carbohydrates or proteins. Thus, moderation is key, and we should consume them moderately.

Omega-3 Fatty Acids and Your Brain: What is the Relationship?

Omega-3 fatty acids are essential if you want mental clarity, and concentration, as well as increase your focus. They should remain at the top of your shopping list as they impact your life greatly and have a positive contribution to the development of the brain. The foods that contain omega-3 fatty acids include:

  • Cold-water fish like bluefish, herring, rainbow trout, salmon, tuna, and sardines.
  • Olive oil
  • Peanut oil
  • Canola oil
  • Flaxseeds and Flaxseed oil

Studies have found that Omega-3 fatty acids improve your cognitive functioning as well as help you gain a sharp and fast mind. This is because the DHA and EPA components in the Omega-3 fatty acids found in fish.

How do Omega-3 Fatty Acids Help with Mood Swings?

Research has highlighted that omega-3 fats help in maintaining mood swings, especially the ones seen in bipolar disorder. This is because they disrupt the brain signals that trigger these episodes. Thus, including omega-3 fatty acids in your diet quite literally helps to buffer mood-related disorders. 

In fact, if these findings are replicated further, there could be a look into how omega-3 fatty acids can be included in the treatment plans for disorders of schizophrenia and depression (Sinclair et al., 2007). However, instead of self-medicating on the basis of this one study, if you notice yourself having any symptoms of the above-mentioned disorders, you should consult a psychologist.

Why You Must Limit Saturated and Hydrogenated Fats

Essential fatty acids are indeed good for your health as well as your brain. They provide you with nutrients that help you to buffer neuro-cognitive decline, however, modern-day diets lack these good essential fats by a great deal.

The “bad” fats, also known as saturated, processed, and trans fats are mostly present in commercially baked foods such as cakes, doughnuts, cookies, processed foods and fast foods, red meat, butter, mayonnaise and some salad dressings, chips, cheese, full-fat milk, coconut and palm oils.

Ban Trans Fat, Here’s Why:

Trans fats are actually more harmful than both saturated and hydrogenated fats combined! They increase your cholesterol levels and thus can endanger your brain and body for the worst. You may want to have a complete, or partial ban of trans fats from your diet because they work against your brain. Trans fats disrupt the production of mitochondria in the brain cells and thus limit their efficiency and energy.

Especially if your diet is low in omega-3 fatty acids, trans fat can be twice as risky. This is because your brain has no other choice than to absorb twice as much as trans fatty acids and make weaker and dysfunctional cell membranes.

Weight of the human brain

The weight of the human brain is about 3 lbs or 1.4 kilograms. It makes up around 2% of the human body weight. The male brains are found to be roughly 10% larger than female brains according to a study done by Northwestern Medicine in Illinois. 

The male brain has a brain volume of 78 cubic inches or 1,274 cubic centimetres on average as compared to the female brain which has a volume of 69 cubic inches or 1,131 cubic centimetres. The cerebrum is considered to be the main part of the brain and it is located in the front area of the skull. The cerebrum makes up around 85% of the brain’s weight (Im et al., 2008).

Interesting Facts about the Human Brain

Below are some interesting facts about the human brain:

  • 60% of the brain is actually made of fat. This makes the brain the fattiest organ in the human body. These fatty acids are important for the efficient performance of the brain. Hence, it is necessary to fuel the brain with healthy nutrients.
  • The brain is not fully formed until the age of 25. Brain development starts from the back of the brain and then progresses to the front. Thus, the frontal lobes are the last to strengthen and make structural connections. The frontal lobes are responsible for planning and reasoning.
  • The brain’s memory storage capacity is assumed to be virtually unlimited. The brain contains about 86 billion neurons, which form connections with each other. This adds up to one quadrillion connections or 1,000 trillion connections. These neurons, over time, combine and further increase the storage capacity. It is important to note that in Alzheimer’s disease, a lot of neurons can get damaged and stop working, resulting in affecting memory.
  • Brain information can travel up to 268 miles per hour. Neurons, when stimulated, generate electrical impulses which can travel from cell to cell and transmit information. When this process is disrupted, it can cause seizures or epilepsy.
  • By the age of 4, the spinal cord stops growing. The spinal cord is a bundle of nerve tissues that support cells. It is responsible for transmitting messages from the brain to the body, and vice versa. The spinal cord is considered to be the main source of communication that connects the body to the brain. In cases where the spinal cord is affected, this communication is ruptured and can affect the immune system of the individual suffering from it.
  • It is not true that we only use 10% of our brain. In fact, we use all of it, even while sleeping. Neuroscientists have now confirmed that the human brain is always active.
  • The weight of the human brain is about 3 lbs or 1.4 kilograms. It makes up around 2% of the human body weight. 
  • According to Dr Darla Rothman, we spend around 4.4 seconds processing 100 words. However, our brains are naturally wired to process large amounts of visual data rather than text (Webb, 2017).
  • It is said that the brain’s memory capacity is closer to 2.5 petabytes. This means the brain’s memory capacity is 2.5 million gigabytes! Interestingly, neurons combine so that they form many memories at a time, thus, the brain’s memory storage is ever increasing.
  • According to Miller (1956), adults can hold upto 5 to 9 items in their short-term memory. It is usually believed that the short-term capacity of humans is around 7 plus or minus 2 items.
  • The human brain generates around 23 watts of power, which is enough to power a lightbulb. This power calls for the need for rest. Good sleep helps in maintaining the pathways in the brain. Sleep deprivation can increase the accumulation of a protein in the brain which is linked with Alzheimer’s disease.

Conclusion

This article covered information on “What Type of Fat is the Brain Made of?” It also included information on what kinds of fat we should eat to make the brain function more efficiently. In the end, the article highlighted some interesting facts about the brain. The article answers some frequently asked questions about the brain.

Frequently Asked Questions: What Type of Fat is the Brain Made of?

Is the brain made of fat or protein?

The brain is composed of cells, nerve fibres, arteries, as well as arterioles. The brain is made up of fat, and in fact, it is nearly 60% fat, thus making it the fattiest organ in the body.

What makes up 80% of the human brain?

The cerebral cortex makes up about 80% of the brain’s space or total volume. This is interesting because the cerebral cortex is a relatively recent development in humans when compared to the evolutionary history of the human brain (Ackerman, 1992).

Can your brain get tired of thinking?

Yes, the brain can get burnt out by thinking. This phenomenon is known as brain fog or mental fatigue. When the brain is overstimulated it can cause dysfunctions in cognitive abilities, and affect one’s productivity, decision-making and problem-solving skills, as well as memory. It can also make it difficult for one to concentrate on daily mundane tasks.

References 

Ackerman S. Discovering the Brain. Washington (DC): National Academies Press (US); 1992. 2, Major Structures and Functions of the Brain.

Innis, S. M. (2008). Dietary omega 3 fatty acids and the developing brain. Brain research, 1237, 35-43.

Sinclair, A. J., Begg, D., Mathai, M., & Weisinger, R. S. (2007). Omega 3 fatty acids and the brain: review of studies in depression. Asia Pacific journal of clinical nutrition, 16(S1), 391-397.

What was missing from this post which could have made it better?