The human race consumed around 60% of it’s calories from fat until, a mere few decades ago, we began consuming less fat (and consumed more commercially produced alternatives) and as a result our health has suffered. I massively ramped up my fat intake about a year ago and both feel and look noticeably better. It’s become something of an obsession so today I’d like to give you a very basic outline why I think eating fat is important. I’m also going to give you some links to other resources because a) I believe very strongly that pretty much everyone needs to consume more fat in order to improve mental, physical and emotional well being and b) other people explain this stuff so much better than me!
Fats and oils (collectively known as lipids) have been the subject of much controversy over the last few years; food, supplement and drug manufacturers have all looked at the part that lipids play in health while many doctors and nutritional advisors alike have had to revise their points of view depending on what paradigm they originally based their knowledge on. If you’ve got the time and interest please do research the specific health benefits of Essential Fatty Acids (The Omega 3s, 6s and 9s), what makes a fat saturated or unsaturated and / or how fats become Trans Fatty Acids. It might make you look twice at that tub of cholesterol-reducing spreadable stuff you have in your fridge. And that can of stuff you spray on your frying pan in the belief that if you cut fat you’ll lose fat. Hellmans, Nutella, cheese strings? You really want to treat your kids with those? Then soften the blow and make yourself this gloriously fatty Hot Vanilla Shake before you read on because, along with proving some very useful brain nutrients, it tastes damn fine!
The diet and exercise elite are currently focussing on fat burning as opposed to sugar burning. Ketones, low-carb and intermittent-fasting are the new buzzwords. Weight-loss, muscle gain, energy increase, disease healing? All attributable to decreasing the inflammatory nature of sugar and grain consumption and increasing useful fats. To save myself the hassle of trying to explain the theories I’d be grateful if you’d take a minute to cast your eye over the following articles. Please take your time, have a browse, see where the information takes you and come back when you’re ready. I shall just be here sipping coffee and eating one of these rather delicious Fat Bombs that I made yesterday from a fellow blogger’s recipe.
A fat molecule’s structure is that of a chemical chain, known as a Fatty Acid Chain. Essentially it is the shape of a fatty acid chain that determines how useful or damaging it will be in the body. Unsaturated fats such as flax oil are bendy, chemically reactive and extremely useful in the body (in particular the anti-inflammatory Omega 3 fatty acids found in seeds and fish oils); but are also very easily damaged by light and heat exposure. What gives them the ability to be broken down and utilised in your body also leaves them vulnerable to the factors that cause rancidity (often detectable by a fishy aroma.) Food manufacturers use high temperatures and/or chemical treatments to stop these unsaturated fats from going rancid during long periods of storage but these very processes damage the delicate fatty acid chains. Damaged fats change their shape so dramatically that the body doesn’t recognise them and so is unable to process them usefully. Instead, the chains lock on to receptors on your cells and block them from the undamaged chains that your cells need. A bit like sticking your car key in your front door and breaking the lock so that you can’t get in.
Meanwhile saturated fats are highly resistant to heat damage and are excellent carriers of valuable nutrients within the body. Butter? Full of vitamins A and D. Egg yolks? Every compound necessary to sustain a chick until it’s hatched. Coconut oil? A natural microbial. Want an easy way to make your veggies both tastier and far more nutritious? Top them with butter!
So often you’ll see someone who’s been on a diet, lost a load of weight and just doesn’t look right. Their glow is gone, their hair is dry, their abdomen looks soft. You want to congratulate them for their hard-worked for efforts, but they just seem a bit brittle, they’ve lost that bubbly and cuddly status. Meanwhile, anyone who has lost weight while increasing their fat intake gains better skin, better hair, more glow, a more defined waistline, better energy and more. More bubbly and just as cuddly. Here’s why:
Each and every one of our cells has a phospholipid outer layer. If you want to think of a cell as a mini home (I do!) then imagine those flexible fatty acid chains as being the render that that weatherproofs your cellular-home walls. If you don’t provide your cells with the right mix of high quality and undamaged fats (sand and cement) to reproduce and repair the membrane (wall) then you have the cellular equivalent of a cracked and crumbling wall. Obviously this is no good for the health of your cell any more than for the long term protection of an actual wall, so rather than cutting costs with your cellular-home building materials make sure you actively avoid any product that lists hydrogenated fat or vegetable fat (which is highly processed) in the ingredients, “Lite” oils used for low-fat frying and all processed and fast foods.
“I used to think I was being healthy when I opted for ‘light’ margarines and cooking oils. Since adding flax oil and fish oils to my diet and using organic butter instead of margarine, my acne has cleared up, my skin glows and I feel great. What a massive difference these small changes have made!” Emma
What about cholesterol?
Remember my absolutely superb story about Club Glucose? No? Please humour me and re-read it while I mop my tears of self pity. If you really can’t be bothered here’s a quick summary as to just one of the many reasons cholesterol is vital:
- sugar creates inflammation
- inflammation creates damage to tissue walls
- the body uses cholesterol to repair the damage to the tissue walls
- everyone freaks out about the high cholesterol count
- statins are used to reduce the high cholesterol count and the patient is advised to reduce their intake of fat and cholesterol
- the body can’t effectively use cholesterol to repair the damage to the tissue walls and, due to the reduced fat intake, sugar cravings are let loose
- sugar creates inflammation
This cholesterol article by the Weston Price organisation is excellent. Please read it. Pretty please?
And this catchily titled article just caught my eye this week: Why Doctors Finally Called a Truce on Cholesterol in Food.
Also Seven Reasons to Eat More Saturated Fat is a good and easy read.
Convinced yet? I once watched a friend pour all the fat off a chicken she’d just roasted. When I asked why she explained that the thought off all that fat clogging up her arteries made her feel sick. Think it through. Fat will clog up a sink. Because the pipes are cold and non-porous. Are our blood vessels cold and non-porous? Hell no! What a ridiculous metaphor. Those valuable fatty acid chains aren’t clogging up your arteries, they are providing the best, most vitamin rich, anti-ageing, anti-inflammatory, detoxifying, smoothing and glow-enhancing internal moisturiser money can buy! Treat your insides, treat your outsides. Use those roasting juices as a gravy and you won’t regret it. Talking of which, I’ve got a cold roast to pick at. Catch you later my lovelies! Xx
(While these books don’t necessarily agree on the finer points I recommend them all wholeheartedly if you want a broader understanding of why we need to eat fat):
Skye St. John: No Fail Fat Burning for Women
Mary Enig and Sally Fallon: Eat Fat, Lose Fat
James Abel: The Wild Diet
Jimmy Moore: Keto Clarity
Liz Wolfe: Eat the Yolks
Dave Asprey: The Bulletproof Diet
Maria Emmerich: Keto Adapted
Zana Morris and Helen Foster: The High Fat Diet
David Perlmutter: Grain Brain
Dr Malcom Kendrick: The Great Cholesterol Con