Monday, December 20, 2010

How much fat is in the brain?

There's a truncated debate on how much fat is in the brain over at the comments on the site. It started when I got a figure of 2/3 at the Franklin Institute's site.

No offense, but you have a fat head! About two-thirds of your brain is composed of fats. But not just any kind.
Franklin Institute

This other person by the name of "Name" said that it's more like 1% according to a sheet of information he or she had and then she/he produced more information. This debate of sorts, went on longer than Jack's mostly infinite patience (I mean that) allowed. I was also sloppy with my writing and a little defensive, such as life.

Many sources indicate 60-80% fat. I think the problem is the term itself "fat" and the term "myelin" which is a type of fat.

Most nerve fibers inside and outside the brain are wrapped with many layers of tissue composed of a fat (lipoprotein) called myelin. These layers form the myelin sheath. Much like the insulation around an electrical wire, the myelin sheath enables electrical impulses to be conducted along the nerve fiber with speed and accuracy. When the myelin sheath is damaged, nerves do not conduct electrical impulses normally. Sometimes the nerve fibers are also damaged.

In adults, the myelin sheath can be destroyed by stroke, inflammation, immune disorders, metabolic disorders, and nutritional deficiencies (such as a lack of vitamin B12).
Merck Manuals

"The brain is the fattest organ of the body. Almost two-third of the weight of the human brain is accounted by phospholipids. DHA is the predominant structural fatty acid in the brain..."

We are fortunate to have such a complex system in our own body. Weighing two to four pounds, comprised of nearly 60 percent fat and demanding 25 percent of the blood and nutrients from each heart beat, our brain needs and demands special attention. It is now believed that our brains can be shaped for health, that a brain health lifestyle can be incorporated into our own lives, and that a proactive and lifelong brain health lifestyle can help to delay the onset of neurodegenerative diseases.
Paul D. Nussbaum, Ph.D.

Brain Research Institute UCLA:
So argues a UCLA neurologist, who says that the brain's "miles of myelin are a key evolutionary change that may make us vulnerable to highly prevalent neuropsychiatric disorders."

The brain's myelin sheath is the sheet of fat that coats a neuron's axon -- a long fiber that conducts the neuron's electrical impulses -- and is similar to the wrapping around an electrical wire to foster efficient signaling.

Whether it's 1% fat (which seems strange due to the "miles of myelin" quote from the neurologist) or 60%-80%, all I know is that when I added raw, organic, cold processed coconut oil to my vegan diet, I felt so much better and I continue to notice an improvement in my energy levels. I also added a good 3/6/9 oil.

Did you read about the effects of coconut oil on that man with dementia I posted last week? It's quite a story. He was too out of it to have a placebo effect. Mentioning a placebo effect here reminds me of an NBC news story about glucosamine/chondroitin supplementation that I saw at least 15 years ago. One part of the story was of a woman with arthritis and she noticed a significant improvement in her neck, where the major issues were. The other part was about a dog who also perked up and showed reduced inflammation, noted by his (the dog's) veterinarian. Then they brought in a guy who said it was a placebo effect. Which confirmed what I had always suspected: dogs can read and understand the English language. You might want to send your dog from the room when you're discussing a touchy subject.

Here's some more information on myelin:

Some image mapping of the brain's myelin:


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