You might not be eating enough fat
Following a full diet analysis of macro and micro nutrient intake using Nutritics many of my clients have discovered they are not eating enough fat. This is not surprising as we have been led to believe for a long time that fat is bad and fat makes us fat.
This is all started in the early 1980’s following a government report published linking saturated fat to coronary heart disease (CHD) and obesity. As a result we were all told to eat ‘low fat’ diets. The food industry responded by replacing saturated fats with vegetable and hydrogenated fats and adding a lot more sugar to maintain taste. Back in my 20’s I was guilty of buying foods with ‘low fat’ on the label, assuming that meant it was healthy for me and not paying attention to any of the other ingredients.
The result has been that obesity has tripled in the last 20 years and whilst deaths from CHD have decreased thanks to early detection and treatment available; prevalence has increased by 15%.
Perhaps fat is not the evil we have been led to believe.
Fatty acids play a very important part in keeping your body functioning properly. Similar to how amino acids are the building blocks of proteins, fatty acids are the building blocks of fat. Your body digests the fat you eat and breaks it down into fatty acids, which are then absorbed into your bloodstream.
- Fat provides more energy than protein and carbohydrate
- It provides insulation maintaining our body heat
- Is used to transport important vitamins around the body, without it fat soluble vitamins A,D,E,K would not be able to function properly, causing problems with bone growth, eye sight, blood clotting, kidney function just to name a few!
- It is an importance part of your cell membranes and is used for cell construction
- And it prevents water loss, keeping your skin plump and hydrated
Why are omega-3 and omega-6 so important?
Our bodies can produce most fatty acids except for omega-3 and omega-6. These need to be obtained from our diet. They are vitally important for the functioning of our cardiovascular, reproductive, immune and nervous systems. They are particularly important for the manufacture and repair of cell membranes enabling them to obtain optimum nutrition.
What types of fat should I be eating?
We should be getting the majority of our fats from sources where they occur naturally in whole foods like meat, fish, dairy, eggs, nuts, avocado and olives. These types of fats help to increase our metabolism because they don’t contain glucose; they don’t spike our blood sugar levels leading to the release of insulin which promotes fat storage.
Firstly, if you eat meat, eat organic grass-fed fats and oils from animals where possible, why? Because we are not just what we eat but what our meat eats too. Sadly, the rise in demand for affordable meat products has led to industrial scale farming. Animals are rarely or never permitted outdoors and fed constant antibiotics, hormones and grains. There’s plenty of debate about whether this is actually dangerous to us and whether it makes a difference to the nutritional value (dependent on who is sponsoring the research the outcomes tend to be different). However, I’ve decided not to take the risk. An independent report published by the NHS in 2015 claimed famers need to dramatically cut the amount of antibiotics used in agriculture because of the threat to human health. The same goes for our vegetables. Every year pesticides which were previous considered safe get banned as evidence emerges they are a risk to our heath.
What fats should I avoid?
Trans fats and hydrogenated fats, largely found in processed foods like margarine, vegetable oils, cakes, biscuits, bread and fast food. They are also found in foods you might think are healthy like cereals and granola bars. These are man made by a chemical process called hydrogenation (hydrogen is added to liquid oil to make it hard). They do this because it increases the shelf life, flavour and stability in food. Never trust a loaf of bread that sits in your cupboard for weeks without going mouldy! They cause a build-up of bad cholesterol in the walls of your arteries causing them to narrow and harden which can then lead to heart attack and stroke.
Eat good fat in moderation. Next lunchtime ditch the sandwich, crisps and chocolate for a salad with avocado, olive oil and seeds. The healthy fat will not only taste great but leave you feeling satiated for longer, preventing blood sugar spikes thereby giving you more energy and your body will thank you because you are nourishing it with over 20 vitamin, minerals and phytonutrients essential for the healthy functioning of your cells.