Doctors, patients, and readers are often completely confused about fat, clinging to misguided misinformation that prevents them from understanding the latest science to lose weight and achieve optimal health
Simply put, these and other fat myths are big fat lies. Thankfully, experts have finally caught on about the importance of fat.
My latest book, Eat Fat, Get Thin, combines the latest research with my own personal experience - based on decades of empirical evidence working with patients - to prove what I've long known: The right fats can help you become lean, healthy, and vibrant.
Stop and consider your body contains between 15 and 30 percent fat, and that dietary fat provides an alternative fuel source when glucose isn't available.
Despite that eating healthy fats satiate you, help you burn fat, and balance numerous fat-regulating hormones, for decades we've demonized dietary fat.
Thanks to misguided "experts," we've sheepishly adhered to a low-fat diet that almost always equates into a high-sugar, high-refined carb diet and contributes to insulin resistance, obesity, heart disease, Type 2 diabetes, and many other health issues.
Today almost everyone agrees certain fats like trans-fat are unhealthy. Unfortunately, in the shuffle, all dietary fats - especially saturated fat - got demonized.
That's unfortunate because high-quality fats provide better cellular fuel. Stop and think about it: You have more than 100 trillion cells in your body, and every single cell should be constructed of high-quality fat.
When it doesn't get enough good fat, your body provides signs including:
- Dry, itchy, scaling or flaking skin
- Soft, cracked, or brittle nails
- Hard ear wax
- Tiny bumps on the back of your arms or torso
- Achy and stiff joints
- Memory problems
- Attention deficit disorder (A.D.D.)
- Weight gain
Probably the most-studied healthy fats are anti-inflammatory omega 3 fatty acids, which research shows improve insulin sensitivity and reduce your risk for metabolic syndrome.
Other research shows these essential fatty acids play a vital role in cell membrane function and brain development. Among their many benefits, optimal levels of omega 3s reduce your risk for heart disease, depression, and inflammatory issues such as rheumatoid arthritis.
When the human diet contained balanced amounts of omega-3 and omega-6 fats, heart disease was almost nonexistent. Today, cardiovascular disease is the number one cause of death in the world as consumption of inflammatory, adulterated fatty acids increases.
Omega-3 fatty acids deservedly get respect, but for decades experts erroneously classified saturated fat as harmful. Research that ostracized saturated fat - arguing it was, for instance, a major contributor to heart disease - was later proven flawed.
Among its benefits, saturated fat boosts immunity, prevents cancer, and optimizes cellular receptors (including insulin receptors). Your nervous system demands saturated fat, and over 60 percent of your brain is made up of saturated fat. In fact, a recent article in Psychology Today discusses a study that showed saturated fats could reduce dementia risk by 36 percent.
Newer studies show specific saturated fat-rich foods - keep in mind that no food is entirely saturated fat - like butter, coconut oil, and palm oil are harmless and probably even beneficial.
Among those benefits, coconut oil can significantly reduce abdominal obesity, while traditional saturated fats like butter can protect against cancer, boost immunity, improve thyroid function, and so much more.
In all the saturated-fat hoopla, we've missed the real culprit: Inflammatory vegetable oils and other omega 6s. (Proving an exception to every rule, one particular omega 6 - conjugated linoleic acid or CLA - is actually anti-inflammatory and provides fat loss and even anti-cancer benefits.)
Unfortunately, most processed supermarket foods are made with poor-quality omega-6 fats or adulterated fatty acids from refined, processed vegetable oils. They are abundant, very cheap, taste good, and improve texture.
Studies show excessive amounts of these omega 6s increase chronic inflammatory diseases such as non-alcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD), cardiovascular disease, obesity, inflammatory bowel disease (IBD), rheumatoid arthritis, and Alzheimer's disease (AD). By increasing the amount of omega 3s, researchers believe we could reduce many of these chronic inflammatory diseases.
That makes sense when you consider consuming these subpar fats means your cell walls also become subpar. Instead of being flexible and responsive to intercellular communication, cell walls become stiff and rigid. The more rigid the walls, your cells function more slowly and become more vulnerable to inflammation.
You want to ensure your body has the fats it needs to construct high-quality cell walls. That requires eating less omega 6s and more omega-3 fats because cells walls made from omega-3 fats are more flexible, allowing cells to respond more quickly to messages. These "good" fats also help your body produce prostaglandins, or hormones that cool off inflammation.
You also want to eat more saturated fat from healthy sources like coconut oil, which decreases inflammation, the true culprit for most modern diseases.
Healthy fats also provide the important fat-soluble vitamins A, D, E and K2. Your Paleolithic ancestors also got about 10 times the amount of fat-soluble nutrients like vitamins A, D, and K compared with modern diets that consist mostly of sugar, white flour, and vegetable oil.
We refer to these fat-soluble vitamins as activators because they assist mineral absorption. Without them, your body cannot utilize minerals no matter how abundant they are in your diet.
Vitamin D deficiencies, common with low-fat diets, can increase risk for cancer, autoimmune diseases, hypertension, and infectious diseases, and liver diseases.
Beyond providing these and other nutrients as well as nourishing your heart and brain, eating the right fats helps you shed fat. Paradoxical as it sounds, not eating fat or eating the wrong types of fat make you gain weight because cell walls made from high-quality fats lowers blood sugar and insulin levels, meaning you're more likely to burn than store fat.
Besides eating plenty of wild, fatty fish, optimize your fat intake with nuts and seeds, coconut oil, grass-fed butter (or ghee if you're dairy sensitive), avocados, grass-fed meats, extra virgin olive oil, and olives.
In my new cookbook Eat Fat, Get Thin Cookbook, I've provided over 175 delicious, healthy recipes that deliver optimal amounts of healthy fat. I can't think of a better way to incorporate more healthy omega 3s, saturated fat, and other healthy fats into your diet.
Omega 3s get all the love (and they deserve it), but lately we've found saturated fat from healthy sources like coconut oil provide numerous health benefits. Based on the latest research, has your perception about saturated fat developed over the past few years? Comment on my Facebook page.
For more on the wonderful benefits of Omega-3 Fatty Acids, visit the GreenMedInfo database on the subject.