Neuro Lipid Evaluation
Fat! A focus of fitness enthusiasts, exercisers, athletes & dieters across the world. Efforts at losing body fat to achieve a lean, toned physique or to fight heart disease have helped to grow a $71 billion industry that rests tantalizingly on fighting the effects of fat. In the last year alone, almost 50% of Americans were actively attempting to lose weight, with women representing 60% of that statistic. For many of us, consequently, fat feels like an enemy.
But did you know that lipids (a medical term for blood fat) also fundamentally and positively affect brain health and the entire functioning of our brain, spinal cord & nervous system? In fact, in this context, fat represents one of our greatest allies for the optimization of our health!
At the Doctors Studio, we can utilize Neuro Lipid evaluations to gain a detailed insight into your neurological & physical health, identify emotional, anxiety, stress &/or depression-related outcomes of a disrupted lipid profile, and advise you on how to improve your lipid ratio in order to feel as fit, energetic & emotionally balanced as you can be. But first lets’ find out a little bit more about this commonly discussed, but often misunderstood, molecule.
Fat…friend or enemy?
For some of us, fat might feel like an enemy, especially if we are trying to get fitter, or if our doctor has warned us about fatty arteries. But to your body, fat can be a vital ally, a powerful means of transporting essential vitamins, protecting vital organs to the places that our bodies need them most, & even promoting healthy, rapid fat loss (of stored fat) if the fat in our diet comes from ‘good fat’ sources.
Our blood lipid profile also carries vital information about our health, susceptibility to cardiovascular illness, and even our happiness, with recent studies reporting that total blood lipid profile is consistently lower in patients who suffer from depression, aggression & mood swings. The good news? ‘Positive affect’, or a feeling of emotional happiness, contentment, emotional stability & overall emotional wellbeing is also closely linked to a healthy, optimally balanced blood lipid profile. A great lipid profile can also predict a significantly diminished level of heart disease, increased brain health, greater cognitive functionality & more sophisticated CNS (central nervous system) activity.
What are Lipids, Exactly?
You might already be familiar with some lipid-related terms, but there are so many that it can get confusing.
Your doctor might have already mentioned cholesterol. Cholesterol is a type of blood fat (which can be ‘good’ as well as ‘bad’), and blood fats are collectively referred to as ‘lipids’. Cholesterol and other lipids are transported by the blood where they attach to proteins, forming ‘lipoproteins’, of which there are two types: high-density lipoproteins (HDL) and low-density lipoproteins (LDL).
LDL (often referred to as LDL cholesterol) is known as the ‘bad’ type of cholesterol, because if we have too much in our blood, it can clog up our arteries, preventing blood flow to and from the heart, subsequently placing us at major risk of heart disease and other types of cardiovascular degeneration. If we consume an adequate amount, LDL performs the important function of delivering cholesterol to our cells when it is needed. The problem with LDL cholesterol arises when we consume too much of it.
HDL (often referred to as HDL cholesterol) is generally referred to as the ‘good cholesterol because it helps to prevent disease. HDL contains a high level of protein but very little cholesterol, and its job is to carry cholesterol away from cells, and back to the liver, where it is broken down and removed from the body.
There are a few other types of lipoproteins (VLDL – Very Low-Density Lipoproteins) which can also clog artery walls in excessively high quantities, IDL (Intermediate Density Lipoproteins) which carry cholesterol and triglycerides, and Chylomicrons (which carry triglycerides from the gut to the liver after eating, where they are broken down, then transformed into one of the aforementioned lipoproteins, based on the needs of the body).
Gender Differences in NeuroLipids…And Why It Matters
Interestingly, when women hit the perimenopause/premenopausal phase, they demonstrate greater high-density lipoprotein (HDL) cholesterol concentration, alongside lower low-density lipoprotein (LDL) cholesterol, than their male counterparts, alongside lower very-low-density lipoprotein (VLDL) cholesterol, total plasma triglyceride, and VLDL triglyceride concentrations (both during fasted and fed conditions). Women also have larger HDL particles than men. What does this mean? The good news is that it provides a cardioprotective (heart-protecting) function for women! The bad news is that women are far more likely to suffer from dementia & Alzheimer’s Disease, partly because women’s brain cells have been found to die at a faster rate than in men. Lipid metabolism & lipid disruption are key features of this debilitating disease – for example, the most common genetic risk factor for Alzheimer’s, APOE ϵ4 genotype, is involved in lipid transport and metabolism. Lipid levels, including Omega Fatty acids (just one type of lipid crucial to brain health), decline as we age, which can lead to neuronal degeneration.
As these lipids are so crucial to cellular signaling, energy balance, the BBB (blood-brain barrier) integrity & inflammation, these age-related changes can consequently preclude the eventual onset of much age-related neurodegenerative decline. It is thought particularly that post-menopausal estrogen changes can influence the rate at which lipid biosynthesis occurs; as estrogen declines, triglyceride levels often increase alongside lower High-Density Lipoprotein levels, which can both be powerful precursors of cognitive decline. Subsequently, women are more vulnerable to Alzheimer’s Disease & dementia, partially because of adaptations to blood lipid profiles. Therefore, for women – especially around or after the menopausal stage – regular neurolipid testing may prove particularly beneficial in ascertaining changes in lipid profile that might impact cognitive health and one’s vulnerability to cognitive disorders.
NeuroLipid Evaluation is extremely valuable because it allows us to:
- Measure fatty acids that play a vital role in membrane health and in anti-inflammatory activity and provide biomarkers of pathological conditions. A clear lipid profile allows us to work out where we can step in, or optimize, your lipid profile via supplement, diet, &/or lifestyle interventions and to:
- Observe the overall health of cell membranes, a key indicator of global health
- Create a stabilizing diet that addresses imbalances of essential fatty acid and phospholipids (phospholipids are lipids that for the primary component of the cell membrane) based on your results
- Aid in the prevention of a range of dysfunctions via the removal of epigenetic toxins from the body, which the NeuroLipid Test allows us to observe & measure
- Measure different kinds of lipids with follow-up dietary &/or lifestyle interventions as necessary to lower levels of unhealthy (e.g., trans) fats or rebalance levels of fats (e.g., long-chain fatty acids) that can be detrimental in large quantities
- Identify the need for linoleic supplementation, particularly amongst patients who are suffering from neurological dysfunction & diseases, who would benefit specifically from the revitalization of the inner membrane of the mitochondria with linoleic supplementation
- Enable significant improvements in the management of stress, anxiety & depression via the management and rebalancing of lipid blood levels (for example, a very low total lipid content can disrupt cell activity, causing, amongst other side-effects, worsened mood, which can be rebalanced with a diet high in good fats such as Omega 3 & 6-filled fish, nuts, and flax).
- Maximize the health of phospholipid membranes, upon which we depend for the electrical signaling across the entire nervous system that enables all human thought & movement to take place
- Clarify the optimal balance of different HDL and LDL fats (Omega 3, 6 & 9 must be balanced, for example, as an over-supply of one can diminish levels of another).
Lipids & Brain Health
A vital part of normal, healthy development of the body’s CNS (Central Nervous System – in other words, the brain and spinal cord) relies on the formation of a myelin sheath (an insulating layer that forms around nerves). This formation, in turn, relies on the necessary intake of dietary lipids, without which healthy brain development cannot occur.
Brain lipids determine the localization and function of proteins in the cell membrane, regulating synaptic signaling, functioning as transmitters, relaying signals across membranes and neurons, enabling membrane formation, and powerfully intervening in complex systems that prevent depression & anxiety-related disorders from emerging.
Crucially, a Neuro Lipid test allows us to assess brain functionality as mediated by blood lipid levels and profiles, offering crucial insight into brain health, and evaluating whether all lipid-related functionality is occurring in a healthy way.
How Can I Increase my Good Fats…and Decrease the Bad?
Aside from investing in a Neuro Lipid Test, the best way to optimize your blood lipid profile is to increase your ratio of bad LDL to good HDL fats. This can be achieved by quitting smoking, dealing with inflammation in the body (possibly as a result of illness, injury, or allergies), exercising regularly, & overhauling your diet to cut out saturated and trans fats (all of which the Doctors Studio can help you with!). A moderate to low alcohol consumption is also recommended.
Olive oil can decrease the inflammatory impacts of high LDL cholesterol, while beans, legumes, whole grains also lower LDL. Fruit, especially those with high fiber content (e.g., prunes) can make a great impact too, whilst fatty fish, chia, and flaxseed offer an excellent source of LDL-lowering Omega 3. Nuts are packed with heart-healthy fat, while avocados, high in healthy folate and monounsaturated fats, are another excellent choice. Moving toward a more plant-based diet often helps people to lower LDL and raise HDL levels due to the saturated fat content of red meat.
Fat: The Good, the Bad & The Ugly
Saturated, polyunsaturated, fatty acids, triglycerides…the many different types of fat out there can be confusing! Let’s break it down to make it clearer and highlight which ones you need to embrace & avoid.
Saturated fat solidifies at room temperature and is mostly found in meat & dairy (which is why white meat – poultry & fish – is often recommended as a healthy replacement for steak & bacon!), as well as tropical oils (palm oil and coconut oil). Saturated fats are added to a lot of products that you might not expect, such as whipped toppings, and are found in high quantities in cakes, puddings, cookies, and muffins. Saturated fat majorly raises your cholesterol so you should avoid it.
Trans fat is fat that has been adapted through a process known as hydrogenation to increase the shelf life of fat. This kind of fat is usually found in PHOs (Partially Hydrogenated Oils) which are now banned in some countries due to their health risks. Like saturated fats, trans fats have a major impact in dangerously raising cholesterol.
Unsaturated fat could be considered the healthy cousin of saturated and trans fats. Liquid at room temperature, this kind of fat is mostly found in plants and can help lower your cholesterol if you replace bad fats with these good ones (although you still need to keep an eye on total fat intake). There are two kinds of unsaturated fat – monounsaturated fat, and polyunsaturated fat. Monounsaturated fat can be found in avocado, vegetable oils, and nuts, whilst polyunsaturated fat can be found mostly in vegetable oils and in Omega-3 and Omega-6 fatty acids (found in some nuts, fish, flaxseed, and vegetable oils). These are considered awesome for heart health.
Neuro Lipid Evaluation
So why is neurolipid testing so critical? Your arteries can clog up over time, placing you at far greater risk of heart attack or other kinds of cardiovascular degeneration, but you might not even be aware that it is happening. Sadly, the first sign of a heart attack in many people is the heart attack itself – so it remains crucial to gain an idea of the health of your arteries by measuring your overall blood lipid health. It also remains crucial to brain health, emotional & neurological function.
At the Doctors Studio, we use NeuroLipid Evaluation to focus specifically on the impact of lipid levels on the brain as well as the body, evaluating cell membrane and mitochondrial health, diversity, cellular distribution, & overall properties of lipids and protein-lipid interactions in situ, as well as lipid levels and profiling across the whole brain tissue. An investment in a Neuro Lipid evaluation is an investment in your neurological, cognitive, arterial, and emotional health – so contact us today if you feel that a Neuro Lipid test could help you.
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