The Skinny on Fat

The nutrients from fat are absolutely critical and necessary for brain function, hormone production and balance and cell development and growth. Specifically, essential fatty acids {omega-3 and omega-6} in proper proportions are critical for managing the hormones that regulate temperature, mood and digestion.

Because fat is really important to the brain, it’s really important to our overall health and wellness. The brain is the fattest organ in the body, composed of about 60% fat.

In today’s world we have a slew of brain problems like anxiety, brain fog, fatigue, depression, ADD, autism, Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s, Multiple Sclerosis and more. It seems likely that there could be a link to the quality and quantity of the fats we ingest {and to the quality of our overall nutrition}.

There was a time demonizing fat {and cholesterol}, linking them to clogged arteries, weight gain and stroke, but this myth is widely disbelieved today. People are back on the fat train, and I’m excited about it! Because depriving the brain of healthy fat is a scary scenario.

In general, I don’t think the debate is about fat or no fat, but I do think it’s about quality. Fat that is a whole food and from nature is good, hands down. Processed fat, trans fat, that is not from nature is bad. Simple.

For bad fats, usually these exist in animal food {meat and dairy} or packaged foods — when checking ingredient lists, if you see the word, “Hydrogenated,” star clear!

So, the basics-

Benefits of good fats {polyunsaturated, saturated and DHA}:

  • Slows down absorption so that you can go longer without feeling hungry, increases satiety
  • Reduces fasting insulin levels
  • Slows digestion
  • Curbs cravings
  • Maximizes loss of stored body fat (ketosis)
  • Hydrates cells
  • Helps brain functions such as memory, ability to speak and motor skills
  • Rich source of energy for the cells in our brains, which along with exercise can stimulate new brain cells
  • Provides the building blocks for cell membranes and a variety of hormones and hormone-like substances
  • Provides benefits for the liver and immune system, helps maintain proper hormone balance
  • Act as carriers for important fat-soluble vitamins A, D, E and K
  • Needed for the conversion of carotene to vitamin A, for mineral absorption, and for a host of other biological processes

Sources of good fat:

  • Avocado or avocado oil
  • Fatty fish (salmon, trout, mackerel, sardines, herring, sablefish)
  • Olives or olive oil
  • Coconut and coconut oil
  • Nuts and nut butters {walnuts, pecans, almonds, macadamias, hazelnuts}
  • Seeds {hemp, flax, sesame/tahini, chia}
  • Fresh herbs {basil, oregano, mint}
  • Micro algae

In case you’re curious about Ketosis, it’s a normal metabolic process where the body’s cells use glucose as their main source of energy, from dietary carbs like sugar or starch. When the body doesn’t have enough glucose for energy, it burns stored fat instead. Mind Body Green has a bunch of posts devoted to ketosis, see here.

One more thing, a general thought about understanding nutrition and the health of the body {fat or any other topic}: we can’t compartmentalize or look at subjects through pinholes. We can’t talk about one nutrient or food at a time — like just grapes, or just salmon or just walnuts or fat as a whole regardless of quality — because it all works together in a grander scheme. The media does this a lot and I think it’s really confusing to the general public. It’s not about one food, or one nutrient or one macronutrient group; we need to keep it simpler, we need to think bigger picture, more holistic. Overall, we just need to eat a variety of real foods from nature in reasonable proportions. The macros {macronutrients} I track to are vegetables deep in color, protein and fat — I make sure all of my meals include a balance of those three groups and then I’m good to go.

LMK what you think!


source: 1 | 2 | 3 | 4 | 5 | 6

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