From the time mom and dad start trying to make a baby, while mom carries, then nurses and through the time of feeding that little one, these nutrients play an essential role in baby's brain growth, development and function.
We thought it only right to begin with these essential brain fats:
-DHA + EPA (Essential fatty acids)
The brain is made up of about 60% fat by basic composition. It only makes sense then that fueling the brain begins with us consuming the very fats that do so. Both cholesterol and omega's are richly saturated in the adult and baby brain alike. We often hear so much about having high cholesterol and the nasty inflammatory omega 6's. But what happens to our babies when the bodies that form them don't have healthy levels of these fats? What happens to the brains we are forming in utero when we are not consuming any or enough of these nutrients?
Well many would argue that that's exactly what has happened now. That we have a generation of children coming from the first generation of adults to avoid these crucial nutrients or minimize the amounts of them we consume when they are the very nutrients that supply the most critical nutrition for perinatal years.
Cholesterol can only be found in animal food and is a precursor to making steroid hormones and neurotransmitters in the brain. Cholesterol was the single most common nutrient deficiency I found among couples struggling with infertility, or sadly in women with miscarriages. Fertility health requires optimal levels of hormones in both men + women, and once you do conceive your body has to make increasingly higher amounts of progesterone in order to carry baby. Progesterone, estrogen and testosterone are all steroid hormones that cholesterol helps the body produce. It would only make sense than in our years when these hormones play such a front seat role that we should be consuming liberal amounts of the foods that contain the nutrients that help make them.
Cholesterol rich foods:
-grass fed butter, ghee + other animal fats
-grass fed red meats; beef, lamb, buffalo
The other critical fats for brain health, Arachidonic Acid, DHA + EPA are all 'essential fatty acids' so by definition that means it's essential you consume them in your diet. Yes, they can be converted from plant foods but why would we waste the countless nutrients that are required as co-factors in the conversion process when we can get them straight from the source? Besides, even in people who consume animal food Arachidonic acid was still a common deficiency I saw in moms and children. Even in people who consume plenty of wild caught fish, DHA + EPA were still regularly very deficient. We need to not only eat these nutrient dense foods regularly but eat more of them during our perinatal years when our nutritional demand is so much higher than usual. We need to understand that in order to have sufficient levels of DHA + EPA in our bodies and in the babies we make we must be taking a daily 'supplement'.
Preferably, a daily dose of cod liver oil which not only supplies DHA + EPA but also cholesterol, all in one ;) moms who choose fish oil over cod liver oil just be sure you keep up with your cholesterol rich foods, likewise for your littles.
Xo Dani and Whitney