I imagine you've been bombarded with messages about how bad fat is for you... yet some fats are good for you. I'm hoping to help you get to grips with it all, and explain the benefits of Omega-3 in particular.
Why would I want to talk about the benefits of Omega-3 on my relationship advice site?
Well, if your body is starved of essential nutrients then it's under stress. A stressed body equals a stressed mind - even if you're not always aware of it.
Stress has huge consequences for your physical, mental, emotional and social well-being. And of course the health of your relationship is linked to all of these. Everything that you do to nurture yourself will directly - and indirectly - benefit your relationship too.
Omega-3 is an essential unsaturated fatty acid. 'Essential' here means that your body cannot produce (synthesise) it - so it has to come from your food.
Fats make up 60% of your brain, in the same way that water makes up 80% of your body. Without water we die. Without the right fats your brain at the very least fails to function at its optimum level.
You may be asking yourself: "If that's so, then why are the fats in my potato chips, biscuits, cakes etc. so bad? Why doesn't my body/brain benefit from those?"
The answer is that there are no beneficial fats in those foods. (Actually, I'm afraid to say that their only 'benefit' is a very temporary feeling of satisfaction!)
Your cakes, biscuits, pastries and takeaways (or "take-outs") are very likely to contain trans-fats (you can Google this one). The chemical structure of these fats is at odds with what your body expects and desperately needs.
In the absence of healthy fats, your body will use trans-fats 'building blocks' in your brain. However, your brain has to work much harder to process these. The chemical structure of these fats is incompatible with your body's requirements.
So, your brain's energy expenditure increases to overcome the disadvantage of working of with poor quality, wrongly-shaped materials. This means your brain's ability to communicate effectively is compromised.
Just imagine using a poor quality fuel in your car and 'making do' with worn-out, misshapen parts. Sooner or later, the car will break down.
Nerve cells in your brain communicate by way of neurotransmitters. These are the chemical 'messengers' that convey 'messages' from one nerve cell to another. Have a look at this video to see them at work...
Nutrients provide the fuel for the fire in the nerve cells. But they have difficulty passing the membrane (the mesh covering the nerve cell) if it's constructed from poor quality (trans) fats.
Trans-fats therefore make it difficult for your neurons to branch out and lay the road necessary for the transport of messages.
In addition trans-fats decrease the flow of blood and oxygen to your brain. Is it any wonder that when you're deficient in Omega 3, you're missing out on all of its benefits? And this puts you at risk not only of depression, but a plethora of other problems too.
Oh... by the way - that little bit of added Omega-3 here and there in so-called 'health foods' really won't do. You'll get it from milk, cheese and butter from grass-fed (not grain-fed) cattle, from deep-sea fish and from walnuts among other sources.
Discover more sources of Omega-3 and to find out why you can't do without in Part 2...