Your brain power relies on getting the right nutrients in your diet and supplements, so that you can stay focused, motivated, and on top of your game at all times. One of the key nutrients that may help you achieve this is omega 3 essential fat, which directly feeds your brain — powering your brain cells to work at maximum capacity.
Why Omega 3 is an essential brain food
Omega 3 fats are long-chain, polyunsaturated essential fats, which your body cannot make. Instead, you get them from your diet, or from supplementation. These fats can help to keep your cell membranes fluid and elastic, which is important for making energy in your cells, and helping to clear toxins. They also support joint repair, cell repair, and have been shown to have many benefits to our health, including for our heart, immune system, hormone balance, as well as reducing the risk of cardiovascular and heart disease, depression, migraines, and asthma.
When it comes to your brain, it’s absolutely vital to make sure you’re feeding your brain cells with enough omega 3 fats. That’s because around 60% of fat makes up the brain. This means we need to constantly replenish this fat. Without it, our thought processes simply do not work efficiently — bad news if you’re running your own business.
The omega 3 journey
Our brain cells are very complex structures. Chemical messages along nerve cells drive them. It’s the connecting up of our billions of nerve cells which supports our intelligence, as well as our brain’s ability to connect with the rest of our body and keep everything working optimally. The transmission of these nerve cells requires good insulation, just like electrical wires, and it’s omega 3 fats in the right combination which help to provide this insulation. If our brain cells cannot communicate effectively, then we’re unable to think clearly, our brain’s messages might not reach our body as effectively as they should, which means we may not feel physically as fit as we’d like.
As well as the insulation of nerve cells, omega 3 fats help to make prostaglandins, which are potent chemicals that help to regulate the release of neurotransmitters. You may have heard of serotonin, dopamine, and adrenaline? These are just a few of our neurotransmitters, or chemical messengers, which help to regulate our emotional balance. If you lose your temper easily, swing between low mood and hyperactivity, or lack emotional perspective, this can make it more difficult for you to perform at your best, both at work and at play.
Omega 3 fats also have a huge role to play in managing inflammation in the body. If we don’t consume enough omega 3 fats, our body may be in a state of inflammation and oxidative stress, which can directly damage our brain cells and the structure of neurons. So, the healthier our brain, the more efficiently and powerfully it runs.
So how does omega 3 relate to performance in business?
When it comes to how well your brain can perform, omega 3 studies have shown that the long chain omega 3 fats EPA and DHA (which are found in oily fish), may help to support focus, attention, and our brain’s processing speed. So if you can think better, focus more, and hold your attention span for longer, you’re more likely to maximise your performance at work.
Omega 3 fats have also been shown to support your memory, and ability to quickly recall memories. This is a great asset for any business owner during pitches and team meetings. For example, in one study of healthy young adults, DHA supplementation was shown to improve memory and memory recall time, in those who had a diet low in omega 3 fats. For a small business owner, a successful pitch can come down to the efficiency and proficiency of what you say — and this is what the right amounts of omega 3 can potentially help you improve with. This could mean that, with enough omega 3, you may be more effective during brainstorming meetings, have more innovative ideas, and stay focused during those longer meetings. This is complete with more energy throughout the day.
Ability to concentrate
Being more focused at work also goes hand-in-hand with productivity levels. Running a business can be overwhelming at times, so having the capacity to get things done on time is a real boon to any business owner. The more you get done, the less the pressure there is on yourself. As a result, you become less stressed. This is a contributing factor to a healthy working environment. Each of these benefits can be seen as integral aspects in helping you to grow to your business.
How do I increase my omega 3 fat intake?
The balance of your omega fats in your diet is very important, and for most of us, we consume far too much omega 6 (a fatty acid found in various cooking oils) compared to omega 3.
Your key source of the longer chain omega 3 fats (DHA and EPA) are oily fish, which include:
- Wild salmon
You’ll also get some omega 3 fats from seeds such as:
- Flax (linseed)
- Chia seeds
However, it can be more difficult to convert vegetarian sources of omega 3 (from seeds) into the longer chain omega 3 fats needed for your brain health.
As an insurance policy for your brain health, you may also look to supplement omega 3 fats, to ensure you’re getting enough in your diet. Remember that your body cannot make omega 3 fats, so you have to ensure you’re consuming sufficient amounts. As a general rule, look for an omega 3 supplement that contains both EPA and DHA, with around 1000mg of total omega 3 per dose. This can help you maintain efficient cognitive function. This is an essential component of running a business successfully.
For any more information on how to stay healthy at work, head on over to our help centre.
Catherine Jeans is a nutritional therapist and writer for Healthspan. She has a special interest in women’s health, supporting hormonal balance and optimal wellbeing in women of all ages, through the use of food, nutrition and functional health.