Most people underestimate the importance of “healthy fats” when it comes to not only our overall health, but also when it comes to the appearance of your skin and the performance of your brain (and not incidentally, your mental health).
I can still remember the eighties and nineties, when the big thing was a low fat or fat free diet. There were fat free food products marketed allover the place in the supermarkets.
I remember it so well because I was at that young, impressionable age when I really cared about my weight and appearance almost to a fault and I bought into this diet hook, line and sinker. I also remember ALWAYS feeling like I was starving and having to eat huge portions of these fat free foods just to feel the least bit satiated.
I also happen to remember that my mood was pretty much always unpredictable, my hormones were out of control (as was my acne), and I just wasn’t as quick on the draw when it came to focusing or concentrating.
In addition to this, I always felt tired. This could have been attributed to the turbulent hormonal teen years, however I know that I wasn’t feeding my body correctly by giving it adequate healthy fats. In fact, I was starving my body of this very critical nutrient.
My skin always looked red and irritated, and weirdly even though I struggled with moderate to severe acne in my teens, it was dry everywhere else other than where the acne was directly impacting it in my t-zone. If I’d known then what I know now about how important fats are to our bodies, our skin’s appearance and our brain function and mental well-being, I never would have followed that type of diet for so long.
Your brain is made up of cholesterol
Our brains largely consist of fats. This is because they are largely made up of fatty cell membranes which constitute roughly over half the content of the brain. When your diet consists of healthy essential fats which provide the necessary lipids to create these healthy membranes, your brain can better manufacture nerve cells, which are the cells that govern all the brain’s functions.
Essential fatty acids (omega 3 fats) not only provide the necessary protection for these cell membranes, but they also help to buffer the signs of aging in these valuable nerve cells. This is why fats like coconut oil, olive oil and various types of nuts are considered to be protective against degenerative brain and nerve diseases like alzheimers.
Essential fatty acids also help us to focus more clearly, and help our nerve cells to interact better, which creates a better mental clarity and makes us much “smarter” since our brains can function so much more effectively and efficiently.
Additionally, diets high in omega 3 fats have been shown to help disrupt the neural activity that is highly correlated to bipolar disorder and other mood disorders. They seem to be able to help regulate these types of mood swings, so they can be very helpful additions to the diet if you tend to experience these types of mood inconsistencies.
Your skin relies on fat as a cushioning agent, and it also acts as an internal “lubricant” and moisturizer
Healthy fats are SO vital to the health and vitality of not only your skin, but also your hair. These are both tissues that benefit greatly from getting enough dietary fats. They can help control inflammation, which helps to quell common skin disorders that affect its appearance like rosacea, acne and eczema of the face and scalp (among several others).
Healthy fats also create “internal moisture”. Your skin needs fats to stay hydrated internally. While drinking a lot of water is also important (as I almost always stress), eating healthy fats is another crucial part of maintaining that internal youthful glow that comes with well-hydrated and well-nourished skin from the inside out.
Since these fats also play an important role in the metabolism of carbs and sugars so that they do not just change over into simple carbs, they also help keep the skin younger, longer. This is because when carbs break down into simple sugars in the body, they become incredibly destructive to the underlying foundation of the skin.
This foundation is made of collagen and other connective tissues, and sugars in the body make it much more rigid, which makes the face appear aged and can also cause the appearance of wrinkles, depressions and deep folds to become much more apparent.
The process of this breakdown is called glycation, and it’s very well documented that it’s a main cause behind collagen breakdown (which not only affects the skin, but also the joints and cartilage). See our previous post on how to get rid of nasolabial folds as well.