For many years fat has been demonized in the media as being bad for our health, subsequently, a whole group of fat-free foods appeared on grocery shelves with the promise of reducing heart disease, strokes, and cholesterol, yet that doesn’t quite seem to have happened. As with many things, when we generalize a food or food group such as fat, we end up throwing out the baby with the bathwater, which is a shame.
When we talk about stress in our lives, we are talking about how we react to situations that we are confronted with daily. So, when we talk about being nervous and managing our nerves, although there are most definitely environmental and lifestyle factors that influence how we feel and react to a situation, the quality of the food we eat also has a role to play.
Our nervous system is an intricate pathway made up of an electrical system that sends messages about these situations throughout the body without us even having to think about it. These electrical pathways are covered by what is known as the myelin sheath, which provides both insulation and protection from internal and external damage. Protein and fatty substances are the main components of the myelin sheath. When we provide our body with the healthy fats it needs, this allows our nervous system to work efficiently, however, when there is a lack of healthy fats in the diet this can also affect the speed and quality at which these electrical messages are transmitted throughout the body.
This does not necessarily mean that we can go out and eat a packet of bacon because of the fat content, however, we can ensure that our bodies are provided with the right type of fats, which can help and support our nervous system. These healthy fats are found primarily in oily fish, avocados, nuts, seeds, and oils such as avocado and nuts oils. Not only are they important for our nervous system but they also have a key function in supporting our immune system. When we are under large amounts of stress, due to work, family, or other factors, ensuring that these healthy fats are part of our diet, can help to reduce the impact that stress has on our bodies in general. Just as these healthy fats can help, other fats which are found in fast food, pre-made meals, and processed foods, will increase inflammation, and negatively impact our nervous system, feeding into the stress which is already present.
So next time you are feeling stressed and tired you might want to grab a handful of nuts, as not only are they a good source of healthy fats, but they will help to keep you feeling full for a longer period of time.
Note from Chris: I always say that NeurOptimal® Neurofeedback is one tool in the toolbox. The importance of a nutritious diet, exercise, and practices such as mindfulness or meditation that feed our spirit can’t be emphasized enough. Where Neurofeedback fits in is helping to bring our nervous system more into balance so that people are more resilient and have more capacity to use other tools, such as nutrition, to support their overall well-being.