I know you’ve all heard me ranting on that fat doesn’t make you fat but it seems few of you actually believe me. After everything you read in the media I suppose I can’t blame you if you find this hard to grasp. But I want to let you in on a secret. Those in control in government and media have been lying to you. The ‘lipid theory’ which claims that saturated fat is the cause of weight gain and coronary heart disease is based on unfounded and out of date research. The evidence is in front of your eyes. The consumption of saturated fat is at its lowest ever however obesity and heart disease have become an epidemic. Consumption of carbohydrates, oils and processed foods however is at an all time high. You may well be asking how could this happen? How could our government, medical profession and media support this movement away from foods that have previously been instrumental in keeping us healthy and fending off disease? Well the processed food industry is big business and highly influential. By demonising saturated fat and claiming their products are the healthy alternative, we all rush out and buy them. A very lucrative industry is created.
To read more on how saturated fat got the blame from everything from weight gain to heart disease please see link to research paper below, ‘The Oilng of America’. This is a very detailed report which highlights lots of research to prove that the saturated fat myth is completely unfounded) http://www.drcranton.com/nutrition/oiling.htm
As a nation we are completely ill informed about basic nutrition and what our bodies need and don’t need. We are bombarded with contradicting diet information so it can be difficult to know what to believe. I’ve heard lots of comments from some of you about avoiding saturated fats like butter, cream and full fat milk and going for low fat alternatives. You may think you are being healthy but these low fat products are loaded with sugar and far more sinister chemicals. Just because it’s marketed as being good for you doesn’t mean it is! It saddens me that so many of us are actually risking our health and are depriving our bodies of essential nutrients whilst thinking they are actually doing the right thing.
If it was that simple and saturated fat is causing weight gain and disease then why aren’t the low fat diets working? If you look around you can see as a nation we are fatter than ever before. We have an epidemic of obesity, not to mention degenerative diseases such heart disease, diabetes and cancer. Yet we eat less saturated fat than ever before. Back in the days when our parents and grandparents cooked in lard and freely ate real butter, obesity was rare and some of the diseases that are killing us today were virtually unheard of. Is it just me or can no one else see that maybe it’s not the fat that’s the problem?
Why we need fat
Our bodies are made of protein and fat, not carbohydrate. Therefore doesn’t it make sense to eat what we are? We need protein for muscle growth and repair. We also require fat for a vast number of functions. Fats are required to make hormones, brain function, nerve cells and to construct cells walls. Fats are also essential in the uptake of vitamins A,D,E and K. These vitamins are fat soluble vitamins so without fat in our diet (particularly saturated fat) we are unable to absorb these vitamins into our bloodstream leaving our bodies malnourished. As fat is vital for so many functions, if our body is deprived of it, it can actually manufacture it out of carbohydrate. This means that when you are craving sugar and carbs your body may actually be crying out for fat!
Fat makes you feel full
Eating fat promotes feelings of satiety or fullness making us less likely to overeat. When we try to overeat on real food particularly fats and proteins it is virtually impossible. I mean could you really overeat on avocados or chicken? However I think we all know that overeating on sugary or starchy products (carbohydrates) is a different story! (Who hasn’t eaten a pizza, followed by a bag a Doritos and some chocolate!)
Eating fat promotes hormonal balance
When we eat carbohydrates glucose is immediately released into our blood stream. Our body responds to this by releasing the storage hormone insulin to take the sugar out of our blood and store it for energy use. Most of this is stored in our fat cells. When we eat protein our body releases protein mobilisation hormones. Eating fat produces no hormonal response maintaining a hormonal balance and no excess fat storage!
Therefore eating more fat will keep you feeling fuller for longer, aid digestion, and keep you body nourished with essential vitamins and minerals.
Examples of fats to include in your diet
- Butter and full fat milk
- Lard (yes, really!)
- Coconut oil
- Animal fats from meat
- Nuts and seeds
Fats to avoid
All hydrogenated fats found in cakes, biscuits and processed foods. Hydrogenated means the fat has gone through a chemical process to change its consistency making it highly reactive in the human body. These fats are in most products you will find on the supermarket shelves as they increase the shelf life. To my despair I recently found out that cinema popcorn is loaded with hydrogenated fat. I thought this was one treat I could still have! To avoid these just eat real, fresh food and avoid anything you can’t explain exactly what it is! Can anyone actually tell me exactly what special k is?
Heating oils to high temperature should also be avoided as again this creates a chemical change to oil loading it with free radicals and making it highly reactive in the human body. Some oils such as olive oil can be heated and remain unchanged but you should do this in moderation. Use butter or coconut oil when cooking at high temperatures. You should avoid cooking in vegetable oils and sunflower oil altogether. Many fast food takeaways are cooked in oil that is reheated several times. This is loaded with hydrogenated fat and should be avoided at all costs!
Killer Carbohydrates – What really makes us fat
We now eat more processed foods and carbohydrate foods than ever before. The more we have moved away from our natural diet to these types of foods the rate of obesity and degenerative disease has risen dramatically. Our diet has changed from Palaeolithic times where we ate mainly protein and fats from animal sources to become more carbohydrate based. Our genetic make up has not changed however. Our bodies are not genetically designed to deal with these foods and most of us have a very poor tolerance to carbohydrates. Carbohydrates are broken down into glucose to enter the bloodstream. When glucose enters the bloodstream our body responds by releasing high levels of insulin which promotes fat storage. All carbohydrates however are not created equal. The rate at which the carbohydrate is broken and released into the bloodstream is known as the Glycemic Index (GI). When we eat foods which are high GI (sugar, white bread, pasta, cakes and biscuits etc) we experience of rush of glucose into the bloodstream, the body responds by releasing insulin which takes the sugar out of our bloodstream to store for energy use, any excess is stored in our fat cells. To slow down the release of sugar into the bloodstream and thus control our insulin, we should be eating fat and protein with every meal and choose low GI carbohydrates like sweet potatoes and brown rice. Sadly too many of us eat a diet which involves purely refined carbohydrates eg a cereal for breakfast, sandwich for lunch and pasta at dinner. This is flooding our bloodstream with sugar. When we continually eat like this our pancreas is under extreme pressure to continually release insulin. Eventually our body can give up and fail to recognise the insulin leaving dangerous levels of sugar in our bloodstream. This is type 2 diabetes.
What many people do not know is that fruit is also scores very high on the GI index. So snacking on fruit if you are trying to promote fat loss is also not very effective due to the high insulin response. Fruits such as apples and pears as slightly lower GI but to get the best results you should always eat fruit with either protein or fat. Try adding full fat yogurt or a handful of nuts. For most of us Westerners, exotic fruits were simply not available so genetically we are not designed to deal with the high sugar levels. Of course one rule does not apply to all however. Some of us are better able to process carbohydrates than others due to our genetic make up and cultural background. We are all genetically different therefore our cells process foods at different rates. This is known as Metabolic Typing. Eg someone from a West African background may be genetically more tolerant to eating fruits and high GI carbohydrates as these products would have been more readily available to their ancestors! (More information on how to discover your metabolic type and eat for your own genetic make up coming next month!)
The good news is we can make our bodies more insulin sensitive and better able to deal with carbohydrates through eating a diet higher in protein and fat. And controlling our Insulin levels means less fat storage! I’m not saying that we need to cut out the bad foods completely but by including more saturated fat in our diet we will actually make our bodies more healthy so it will be better equipped to handle a little of the bad stuff! So if you want to make a resolution for 2012 why not start by eating they our bodies are designed too. Eat the way your grandmother did starting with including more fat in your diet! Follow this simple rule, if it doesn’t have eyes or grow in the ground it’s not a natural product so don’t put it in your body!
If you would like to do any further reading on this topic The Western A Price Foundation has hundreds of more in depth articles.
- The Metabolic Typing Diet, William Wolcott and Trish Fahey
- The Paleo diet, Loren Cordain
- Nourishing traditions, Sally Fallon
You can also download really informative podcasts from Underground Wellness. Go to iTunes and search Underground Wellness and download whatever takes your interest, and its free!