Your baby’s brain is a ball of fat.
This isn’t a bad thing – in fact, it’s essential.
The human brain is composed of over 2/3 fat, the rest being water, proteins, minerals and a very small amount of glucose.
Fats aren’t just important for stable energy levels and weight management, they’re built into the actual structure of your baby’s brain. They influence how smart he or she becomes later in life. Without the right building blocks – including healthy sources of saturated fats - your baby may never reach his or her full potential.
These fats make up 70 percent of the myelin sheath which surrounds brain neurons and allows them to make new connections. Connections between neurons are a key part of your child’s intelligence.
More connections = more ideas, better memory, and smarter baby.
When a baby eats essential fats, they are converted into something called a ketone – a product of fat metabolism – and then taken directly into the brain tissue, where they are reassmbled into the specific fats needed to fuel mental development and learning. That’s why a baby’s brain is so large compared to the rest of it’s body. This period of brain development is critical for their intelligence throughout life.
A baby needs to get these fats from his or her diet. They don’t magically appear and many of them can’t be made from other fats, proteins, or carbohydrates. If your baby doesn’t get these fats – brain tissue doesn’t form, or it forms incorrectly.
There has been a lot of talk recently about the importance of omega-3 fatty acids for infant development. Omega-3’s are important, but there are many kinds of omega-3’s. The kind you get from plants is ALA (alpha-linoleic-acid, as opposed to the “bad” omega-6 oil named alpha-linolenic-acid). This omega 3 ALA isn’t bad for you, but what your baby needs is DHA and EPA. ALA is poorly converted into DHA and EPA, which is why flax seeds and other plant sources of omega-3’s are not enough. Your baby needs meat and animal fat.
Your baby needs DHA, which is found in fatty fish and grass-fed meat. This is the material with which your baby’s brain will grow. Cutting fat from your young child’s diet will impair their cognitive function, focus, mood, and learning capacity. It won’t do anything good for their waistline or heart function either.
Obviously, you can’t feed meat (or any other solid food) to a newborn. Breast milk is the ultimate brain fuel while a baby is young, and the best breast milk comes from moms who eat lots of healthy saturated and omega-3 oils. Don’t try to start your baby on a “healthy” low-fat diet. Babies need fat to grow healthy brains.
In the next post, we’ll be writing about the single most important thing you can do to improve your child’s intelligence – for life.