Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Why Low Fat is Bad

As I was selecting a package of cream cheese at the store yesterday, I picked up a package of fat free cream cheese by mistake. When I read the ingredients, I was appalled. (Not that I would have purchased it, but I have become a habitual label reader.) Among other non-natural ingredients was Titanium (for color.) I will save a discussion on artificially coloring our foods for another day, but I had to mention this, because I was already prepared to talk about the benefits of having enough (good) fat in your diet.

We have bought the lie that fat is bad, and it needs to be only 10% of our daily intake…. And yet those people who adhere to the low fat, low calorie mentality are the ones who struggle with their weight… and often end up with diabetes or "metabolic syndrome." Our metabolisms were not designed to eat the "foods" we eat today. The syndrome we have is a syndrome of unhealthy eating, and misinformation. One large piece of misinformation that we have bought "hook, line, and sinker" is the notion that fats are bad for you and cause you to have high cholesterol. It is true that some fats are bad, but we have gone beyond throwing out the baby with the bathwater. Avoiding all fats is a contributing factor to the overall poor health in our nation. Our bodies NEED fat. In fact, each of the trillions of cells in our body must have fat in order to function properly. The fancy term we use for these fats that are integral to the outer structure of each cell is "lipid." Lipids, combined with certain plant based carbohydrates, send important messages to the immune system. Without enough fats in our diets, our body struggles to communicate properly…. And the end result is more frequent illnesses, cancers, and auto-immune conditions.

Our bodies need fat. Some of us even need as much as 30% fat on a daily basis. And yet, we are bombarded with slick marketing that tells us to avoid fat, but not fattening foods… just substitute low fat, and all of a sudden ice cream no longer needs to be eaten in moderation. In the first place, the dairy products in the store are bad for you, period, regardless of whether they are made from skim milk, or whole milk. Cow milk creates an acidic environment in the body. What you buy at the store has been pasteurized (killed) and homogenized (molecularly changed.) When you kill the enzymes, you facilitate "lactose intolerance." In the raw version, you would get the enzyme lactase, which is necessary to digest lactose. Our bodies don't make lactase. So the end result is NO ONE drinking pasteurized milk is able to process lactose unless they are consuming a live enzyme supplement. You'll even find special milk that has lactase added back in. Intrinsically, there is something wrong with this picture… but you will find it throughout the grocery store. We kill the food and then "enrich" it with supplemental vitamins and such that were originally there in the first place. But now I am off on a tangent… I'll save further discussion for another blog post.

Don't read what I am saying to mean that it is okay to eat any kind of fat! Fried foods should still be avoided. Hydrogenated oils (aka trans fats) should not be a part of anyone's diet who wants to stay healthy. Oh, and by the way, even if it says 0 trans fats, still read the label. If the serving has less than a gram, they can legally say "0 trans fats." Hydrogenated oils are found in many breads, most crackers, margarine, Crisco, and most anything processed that contains flour. Why? It is cheaper. And what detriment is it to us to consume it? Hydrogenated oil, like homogenized milk, is molecularly changed. In the case of milk, the fat is bound to the other molecules so the cream doesn't separate. In the case of hydrogenated oils, it is molecularly changed so that something that was originally liquid becomes solid. And then we wonder why we have hardening of our arteries, and fatty deposits all throughout our cardiovascular system. But all fats arent bad. Saturated fats are good for you, and are an important part of a balanced diet. Examples of foods containing good fats are: almonds, flax seed (freshly ground), butter (in moderation), walnuts, coconut oil, grapeseed oil, & olive oil (cold processed), cheeses, sour cream, eggs (yolk too)….in other words – naturally occurring fats. We won't lump meat fats into that list because naturally raised meat is naturally low fat!

How this relates to people being overweight could be considered theoretical… or just common sense applied. It is a known fact that our bodies respond to food differently when we are in "starvation mode." When we don't eat enough, our body goes into reserve and holds on to calories it would otherwise burn, hibernation, if you will. When we starve our bodies of fats, something similar happens. If you aren't getting enough good fats in your diet, your body won't turn loose of its stored fat, and instead you will begin to burn muscle for energy.

It is also important to know how our bodies react when we are out of balance in the foods we eat. Hopefully I can explain this in a way that is easy to understand. Our bodies produce insulin to offset the rise in sugar that gets dumped into the bloodstream when we are digesting foods. When we eat lots of carbs without a balance of fats and proteins, we overwork our pancreas trying to produce enough insulin to bring the blood sugar down to an acceptable level. This is where the "glycemic index" becomes important to consider. Though I don't subscribe to the plan on this website I like their glycemic list better than others I have seen. It is important to know that you can choose your portions wisely and still not totally give up the high glycemic foods you love. However, when all we eat are high glycemic foods, the end result is bound to be diabetes. Our undernourished cells eventually become insulin resistant (poor communication) and our overworked pancreas eventually gives out, and even "Type II" Diabetics become insulin dependent. The other thing that happens is the digestive system takes the easiest route in order to divert all the body's energy to lower the blood sugar. That "route" is to store everything as fat! We encourage this viscous cycle by eating processed carbs and avoiding fats and proteins. So… the skinny on fats is: If you don't eat enough, it might make you fat!


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