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Delve Deeper – Fats

May 6, 2019 | Nutrition

Let’s delve deeper into fats. But before we do, I want to address a very common toxic nutritional belief  – “Fat makes me fat”. While the tide is starting to change, we’ve been taught for decades that eating low-fat is the golden ticket to health and weight loss. Whatsmore, even though there was never any clear evidence that eating low-fat prevented heart disease or promoted weight loss, our doctors, government, the food industry and health media embraced this ideology and ran with it – all while our waistlines were getting larger. Fat in food does NOT equal fat on your body. When we eat low-fat because of this belief we deprive ourselves of EFA’s (Essential Fatty Acids). This can turn on the body’s starvation response – literally where the body thinks we’re starving because we’re missing something ESSENTIAL (Essential Fatty Acids) causing us to aggressively seek food (especially late afternoon/night cravings/binges). A diet deficient in EFA’s can also cause:

  • Poor digestion
  • Inability to lose weight
  • Fatigue
  • Irritability
  • Constipation
  • Dry skin, dry/brittle hair, brittle nails
  • Moodiness
  • Cravings for fried foods or fatty foods or junk food,
  • Binge eating
  • Stiff or painful joints
  • Poor cognitive function

Fat is not our enemy nor does it cause heart disease. Chronic inflammation is what causes heart disease. We need good, healthy fats in our body. Our brain is mostly fat. Our cell membranes are comprised largely of fat. Fat protects our organs and transports fat-soluble vitamins. But it’s really important that we distinguish between healthy and harmful fats.

Trans and partially hydrogenated fats are highly toxic – that’s why they’re called “Frankenfats”. Consuming these oils have been associated with cancer, heart disease, obesity, inflammation and accelerated aging. Though the World Health Organization has made removing them from our food supply a priority, they’re still in about 40% of the processed, packaged, frozen, junk food items found in a typical supermarket.

High polyunsaturated fats – like canola, soybean, corn, safflower, margarine and buttery spreads – can also cause health problems because they’re prone to oxidation and can contribute to inflammation which we know know is a major cause of chronic disease.Your endocrine system is also super sensitive to these oils and can lead to symptoms like a slowed metabolism, low energy levels and a sluggish thyroid.

Finally, high consumption of PUFA (Polyunsaturated fatty acids, which are nearly impossible to avoid, if you eat processed foods because it’s in everything…even Newman’s Own Classic Oil and Vinegar dressing contains soybean and canola oil) contributes to systemic inflammation because of they’re predominately comprised of omega 6’s.

It’s hard not to talk about Omega 3’s and Omega 6’s when you’re talking about fats. You’ve probably heard of omega 3’s from fish oil pills.  Omega 3’s are anti-inflammatory and Omega 6’s are pro-inflammatory but BOTH are required to be healthy. It’s the ratio that’s important. We want a 1:1 ratio of omega 6’s to omega 3’s but today, most of us have a 16:1 ratio, meaning that we’re eating way too many omega 6’s, ie in our salad dressings and other packaged foods like chips, baked and frozen foods.

So, now that we know that we need GOOD fats – essential fatty acids – how do we get them?

Cold-pressed extra-virgin olive oil (in a dark bottle), butter (preferably grass-fed), ghee (clarified butter), coconut oil (NO IT’S NOT GOING TO KILL YOU), avocado oil, sustainably produced palm oil, lard (yes, lard), tallow, and duck fat are great for cooking and drizzling over dishes and salads.  Great whole food sources of good fats are avocados, coconuts, olives, nuts (especially macadamia nuts), seeds, eggs and seafood (especially oily cold water fish like sardines, mackerel, cod and salmon – go for wild caught too).

If you’re still a little uncertain as to “good fats” and “bad fats”, need a bit more convincing that eating fat isn’t going to make you fat (has eating a leg of lamb ever caused you to grow an extra leg?) and you are still questioning if coconut oil is going to kill you, we’ll answer all of this over the next 28 days but the #1 thing we want to emphasize is a macronutrient BALANCE.  We need all 3 macronutrients: protein, fat and yes – even carbs. Go too low fat and you’ll see that host of issues I just talked about. Go too high carb and you’ll become insulin resistant.

Eat too low protein and you may experience hair loss, fatigue, intense cravings, muscle loss, feeling cold and poor memory and cognition. Too much fat? GI problems (constipation, nausea, etc), thinning hair, kidney stones, impaired mood, sleep issues and decreased bone density could be on the horizon. This is a balancing act, and while there are averages of how much fat, carbs and protein we should consume, you’re not average. During the Lifestyle Liberation, you and your coach will figure out the ideal amount for YOU.

Julie Ralston

Primal. health Coach