Sunday, May 31, 2009

Good fats / bad fats

Hi all - Some people have asked me how I stopped the compulsive over-eating habit I used to be in.  I believe that 3 things had a huge impact on me: 1. Prayer  2. A mentor (Steve)  3. The increase of healthy fats & protein with a variety of whole foods.  It's hard to believe that eating fat could help you lose fat.  But when your body is really lacking a certain nutrient (in my case, healthy fats), you can really feel the relief when that nutrient is found.  It was literally like the over-eating compulsion just fell off of me (and so did the weight).  Our bodies need healthy fats to survive and thrive.  The problem is that most of the fats I was eating were cheap processed highly heated damaged oils found in processed foods.  Eating an organic grass-fed steak, or a free-range pasteur-fed chicken, or whole raw-milk yogurt is a totally different experience for your digestive tract than consuming fast food and the highly sugared non-"health food" (like yogurt) found in most grocery stores.  I have found the best fats for me are olive oil, coconut oil, and butter.  The rest of this post is a great article by Dr. Mercola:
Did you know that your brain is about 60 percent fat? The fats you eat strongly influence your level of brain function. Some nutritional anthropologists believe the human brain would not have developed as it did without access to high levels of DHA (a type of fat) found in fish and wild game. Just two generations of high omega-6 and low omega-3 fats can lead to profound changes in brain size and function.

Lesson 1: It is the type of fat that matters, not the amount.

Learning about fats can be confusing. When you go to the grocery store, you're confronted with advertisements telling you that a product is low in fat, or a product is made with partially hydrogenated oil. To make sense of all the labels, I've compiled the following list of definitions for you:

  • Saturated fats: Saturated fats are found in animal products such as butter, cheese, whole milk, ice cream, cream and fatty meats. They are also found in some tropical plants and vegetable oils such as  coconut, palm and palm kernel. 

    Saturated fats are not as dangerous as you think. In fact, coconut oil is quite healthy and is the oil to use for cooking since it is far less likely to be damaged through heating. 

    Nutritional Typing

    A misguided fallacy that persists to this day is the belief that saturated fat will increase your risk of heart attacks. Folks, this is simply another myth that has been harming your health for the last 30 or 40 years. The truth is, saturated fats from animal and vegetable sources provide a concentrated source of energy in your diet, and they provide the building blocks for cell membranes and a variety of hormones and hormone like substances. 

    When you eat saturated fats as part of your meal, they slow down absorption so that you can go longer without feeling hungry. In addition, they act as carriers for important fat-soluble vitamins A, D, E and K. Dietary fats are also needed for the conversion of carotene to vitamin A, for mineral absorption, and for a host of other biological processes. 

    Studies on low saturated fat diets also support nutritional typing, which predicts that one-third of people will do very well on low saturated fat diets (which supports the studies showing that they work), whereas another one-third of people need high saturated fat diets to stay healthy.

    If you'd like to learn more about the role dietary fats play in your health, be sure to check out these excellent research studies.
  • Trans fats: These fats form when vegetable oil hardens, a process called hydrogenation, and can raise LDL (bad cholesterol) levels, and  lower HDL (good cholesterol) levels, which of course is the complete opposite of what you need in order to maintain good heart health. In fact, trans fats --as opposed to saturated fats -- have been linked repeatedly to heart disease. These fatty acids can also cause major clogging of your arteries, type 2 diabetes and other serious health problems..
  • Monounsaturated fats: The best oil here is olive oil. Canola oil is also in this category, but I advise avoiding it and using olive oil instead.

Lesson 2: Learn about the importance of omega-3 and omega-6 fats.

Omega-3 fats improve your cell's response to insulin, neurotransmitters and other messengers. They also help the repair process when your cells are damaged. On the other hand, omega-6 fats are pro-inflammatory and contribute to insulin and membrane resistance, altering your mood, and impairing learning and cell repair. To avoid high levels of omega-6, it is important to avoid all vegetable seed oils.

Please understand that it's not only necessary to consciously consume omega-3 fats, which I'll review further in lesson 3 below, but it is just as important to lower your omega-6 fat intake. If you don't lower your omega-6 fats to acceptable levels, your omega 6:3 ratio will not be low enough, and you will not receive many of the wonderful benefits of omega-3 fats such as reduced risk of heart disease, cancer, stroke, Alzheimer's, arthritis and many other degenerative illnesses.

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