The Good and Bad on Fat

Written by Cyndi

Cyndi is about educating. Her greatest love is to teach, both in the public arena and within the large corporate food companies, to enable everyone to make better choices so they too can enjoy greater health throughout their lives. Considered one of the world's foremost experts in Nutrition, Cyndi brings over 40 years experience, research and knowledge.

November 13, 2012

Our body is a fat machine, all our cells have fat, our brain is made up of fat, we carry fats in our blood stream to make hormones and vitamin D as well as other important communicators, we use fat for storage for the lean times.  We not only use fat for storage but we use it for energy.  Fat is so very important for our health that you have to wonder why it has ever become a dirty word.  

Cholesterol and saturated fat especially have bad connotations when it comes to our health.  Then there are fats that are claimed to be good, omega 3, 6 and 9 and fats that we can’t manufacture and must eat like alpha-linolenic acid and linoleic acid.  The fish oil fats include DHA and EPA, there are monounsaturated fats, super unsaturated, polyunsaturated, short chain fats, medium chain fats and long chain fats, triglycerides, LDL (7 varieties), HDL, VLDL.  We can also add, GLA, AA,  interesterified fats, fractionated fats, hydrogenated and partially hydrogenated as well as trans fats. Let’s not forget animal fats and vegetable fats and we could also include fat soluble vitamins such as ADE and K as well as any fats we haven’t invented or discovered.

Back the bus up!  No wonder people don’t know what is healthy for them or not, no wonder there is confusion about fat.  What is good and what is bad?  What should I have more of and in what ratios should I have?  Is it 6:1 omega 3 and 6, should my HDL be higher them my LDL and which of the seven LDL’s cause heart disease?  Should I eat butter or margarine?  Does cholesterol really have anything to do with heart disease? Is it better to have short, medium or long chain fatty acids?  The limiting enzyme that converts plant based omega 3 ‘s to DHA, is there a reason for that?  What do they all do, and do I need them all?  Should I avoid some of them?  

To be perfectly honest with you, I’m even confused about all the fat, the ratios, the uses, the biochemistry the whole kit and caboodle is just out of control.

So how do you make sense of it all.  I always go back to my philosophy of vitalism, that the human body is innately intelligent, it actually knows exactly what it needs to do for growth, development, function and health.  For instance do you ever get up in the morning and actually tell your body what to do with the water you just drank, or how to digest the breakfast you ate and what ATP, cortisol, hormones, immunoglobulins, digestive enzymes and many other daily products and functions it does.  Of course you don’t, it does it automatically, it has a system of communication between the cells and the microbiomes that keep your body in an harmonious state or at least tries to depending on what you put into your mouth.

Up until the age of information, throughout evolution humans lived on instinct and culture and tradition.  Not one human, one hundred plus years ago knew any of what we know today about fats, yet our health, heart health included, and brain cognition was not as bad then, as it is today.  The mental health of our children is declining, the cognition of our elderly is degrading rapidly, the health of our teenagers and young adults is debilitating them and the baby boomers are costing social health care a fortune.

So it is not so much about what we know about fats and the biochemistry of the body that is helping with our health.  Having said that I must admit the more research the more we realise the intelligence of the body, because the more we know each year the more we realise we actually know very little about the full functioning of the body.  I believe with all my heart this research is important but when it comes to the manipulation of foods in order to make science right – this is when I think we have gone too far.  Common sense along with science might be a really good partnership.

Scientists make assumptions and hypothesis and then try to prove their cherished beliefs and for many throughout the information age there has been scandal in the ranks by the manipulation of data in order to prove cherished beliefs.  These scientifically proven cherished beliefs have then in turn caused much pain and suffering through debilitation, health issues, obesity, mental disorders and premature death.  Enter common sense!

We have lived successfully for 1000’s of generations eating a diet based on meat, fish, poultry, fruit, vegetables, herbs, nuts, seeds, grains, legumes and dairy.  The fat in these foods, especially the animal fat was produced from the diet the animal ate, wild foods.  These days our cattle are domesticated they eat grain our fish are in fish farms they eat fish meal made by humans, our poultry are housed in crowded conditions and fed chicken feed manufactured by humans not nature.  70% of antibiotics in this country are fed to our animals.  All meat that is wild has a quality of fat including omega 3 that humans have eaten forever.  The products of animals (dairy) also have good quality fats including omega 3.  Nuts and seeds vary in their fat composition and some like the inca inchi seed have up to 48% omega 3.  The problem is we no longer eat wild foods, we eat domesticated foods.

Change this fact, buy from the farmers markets, all your fresh food, talk to your farmer and your grower and learn about their growing philosophy.  At my market there is a meat seller, he has a farm in Kidaman Creek and supplies directly to the consumer.  The fish monger only has wild and fresh fish.  The asian green seller picks the day before, the apple, pear and citrus growers also pick the day before.   I was in Hobart and went to the local market and purchased possum and wallaby.  They are out there, they are excited about what they do, they are proud of what they do and willing to help you understand their products.  Support these people and you support your health and that of your families and the planet.

What you will also do is feed your body the right fats, those that your evolutionary body knows what to do with.  Feed the body these foods and you don’t have to know anything about the fat story, your body will take care of it and give you health and energy.  The rule of thumb is “It’s AARF” (It’s All About Real Food)

Happy Changing Shopping Habits

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