Guest blog post by Fiona Kane from Informed Health
Fat is NOT bad for your health! In fact, fat is required to absorb important vitamins A, D, E and K. Fat is the very important building block to creating a healthy body, insulating organs, making healthy functioning cells, nerve function, energy production, making hormones (eg oestrogen, testosterone). Fat also makes you feel full and satisfied and most importantly fat does not make you fat!
There are two types of fats that we get from our food; synthetic (bad) and natural (good) fats.
Natural (good) fats
Contribute to healthy cell and body function and are found in whole natural foods including:
- Seafood/fish including skin (wild)
- Eggs (free range)
- Raw nuts and seeds
- Meat/animal fat (grass fed/finished – pasture raised)
- Butter/full fat dairy (from grass fed/finished produce)
- Cold pressed extra virgin olive oil
- Flaxseed oil
Fat that is stored in your fat cells from the above sources will provide protective cushioning of vital organs including your heart. Fat cells provide heat in your body providing protection against external elements and playing a critical role in metabolism.
The fat soluble vitamins play a critical role in your body:
- Vitamin K is necessary to support brain, eye and bone health. Vitamin K will reduce the risk of developing dementia and is critical for normal clotting so you don’t bleed to death.
- Vitamin A is important for brain development, vision and immune function.
- Vitamin D is involved in the prevention of chronic diseases, cancer, schizophrenia, Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s, auto immune (type 1 diabetes), depression and osteoporosis.
Synthetic (bad) fats
Synthetic fats on the other hand have a harmful effect on health! They are often called trans fats, hydrogenated oil, partially hydrogenated oil and vegetable oil. These are found in your processed foods including:
- Take away foods eg pizza, burger, fries etc
- Packaged foods eg dried fruit, biscuits, cakes, tomato sauce, bbq sauce, chocolate, muffins, cakes
- Sugary drinks eg chocolate/coffee milk, soft drink, juices, energy drinks
- Frozen foods eg pizza, lasagne, meats, ice-cream, desserts
- Canola oil, soft butters, margarine, sunflower and other vegetable oils
These fats drive inflammation which leads to auto-immune conditions, cardiovascular disease, dementia, weight gain, diabetes, thyroid dysfunction and many other health issues. Unfortunately, our body cannot differentiate between synthetic and natural fats which mean if you consume synthetic fats and vegetable oil; these fats will be used to make up new cells and create the protective layer around each of cells. The problem here is that the synthetic fat is unable to exchange nutrients properly through the cell. This will reduce the cells ability to function. This means that organs will not be getting adequate energy and the person will become more fatigued and lethargic.
Avoid vegetable oils and hydrogenated oils (eg rice bran, canola, sunflower, margarine), they drive macular degeneration, increase inflammation and the risk of cardiovascular d
A note on the health benefits of coconut oil
Coconut oil provides a unique combination of fatty acids can have great health benefits. The main fat in coconut oil is a type of saturated fat which previously was thought to be unhealthy, now we know that saturated fat is an essential nutrient for health. Coconut oil has a special kind of saturated fat called Medium Chain Triglycerides (MCTs).
MCTs are metabolized differently to other fats and oils, they go straight to the liver from the digestive tract, where they are used as a quick source of energy or turned into ketone bodies, which can have therapeutic effects on neurological disorders such as Alzheimer’s and epilepsy. Ketone bodies can supply energy for the brain and researchers have found that ketones can provide an alternative energy source for these malfunctioning cells and reduce symptoms of Alzheimer’s. A new Alzheimer’s medication being trialled is made from MCTs.
MCTs also have a thermogenic effect which basically means they increase your energy expenditure and help increase your metabolism. Because coconut oil can reduce appetite and increase fat burning, it makes sense that it can also help you lose weight. It is especially effective in reducing abdominal fat, which is the kind associated with chronic disease such as diabetes.
Informed Health Nutritional Wellbeing Centre