Low-fat is indeed, not fine. Fat plays a major role in the proper functioning of our bodies.
(besides an amazing name for a band):
- an energy source for the body
- acts as building blocks for cell membranes and hormones
- aids the absorption of vitamins A, D, E, and K
- allows for the proper use of proteins
- serves as a protective lining for the organs of the body
- helps regulate energy absorption by slowing the absorption of food
- increases satiety
- makes food taste good (NTA, 2019)
Even if you skip right over that list, it’s important to know that eating a low-fat diet or a diet heavy in trans-fat is a one way ticket to gallbladder dysfunction. (NOT a good band name)
The gallbladder sends out bile to emulsify and break down the fat we ingest. (It’s kind of like a carwash sending out soap, thank you Steph Gaudreau) If the gallbladder doesn’t have a job to do, because it either doesn’t recognize the modified fats we are eating, or we don’t eat enough fat, the organ sits idle. Over time, a store of unused bile builds up and eventually becomes viscous. The next stop from that station is calcifications and GALLSTONES!
Extra note here, if bile stops flowing the healthy fat we eat will not be broken down fully or digested the proper way, making for some serious problems, like malabsorption of vitamins.
I know that in this generation, we will never get everyone on board with the idea of eating more fat. Be it healthy fat or not, the brainwashing of our society was just too intense over the past handful of decades.
Let’s take this post for another turn and take a look at three ways that fat can improve your life.
FUN FAT ROLES!
Suncreen = Fat + Calcium
Do you ever notice how some people just burn so much easier than others, sunscreen or not? If you want to ensure you and your family are fully protected on vacation or out on the Little League field oh, you’re going to want to eat your sunscreen ahead of time.
There is a famous nutritional biochemist named Dr. Harry Eidner, who touted the idea that protecting someone from sunburn and skin damage, requires only Calcium and Essential Fatty Acids.
Fatty acids are what become of the fat we eat, once broken down by the body. We aren’t talking about french fry fat here either. Real fat from quality sources such as animals who haven’t been fed a diet of antibiotics and soy by-products. Calcium is the key here again and your body can’t balance out calcium without a bunch of co-factors keeping a proper balance. Fat is one of those co-factors, in fact, it’s a pretty major one!
FYI, if you suffer from cold sores that are triggered by sun exposure, take a look into your calcium and fat intake and absorption!
Okay, let’s get all science-ish for just a minute, like low-level science. In our cells, when enzymes create an action with fatty acids, hormone-like substances called prostaglandins are formed.
Prostaglandins are responsible for multiple processes, one of the most important being the management of inflammation. There are three types of prostaglandins and the one you are going to care about after a night of beer before vodka is prostaglandin 1.
Why? Because alcohol shuts down prostaglandin 1’s ability to anti-inflame! That headache you feel the next morning? That’s inflammation. Other than drinking water to prevent dehydration, your new go-to trick after a crazy night out is to take in some omega-6 fat.
We often hear how bad Omega-6 is bad for us, which isn’t true. It’s just bad when it is much more prevalent than Omega-3. It’s all a game of balance. Omega-6 oils such as corn, safflower, peanut can certainly be modified and become trans-fats. So, you need to choose for Omega-6 wisely. Add a bottle of Black Currant Seed Oil or Borage Oil to your Amazon cart and you can cut out your need for the “hair of the dog”.
Two of the things we just talked about are going to help you if you struggle with a painful period.
Calcium deficiency is a major contributor to menstrual cramps and for the same reason you need fatty acids for sunscreen, you’ll need it to balance calcium for your period.
Before you go overboard with supplements, mineral balance is a serious thing and you should talk to a nutrition professional to find out where you are.
(Bonus fact: FNTPs are trained to help you find which specific nutrient you may be deficient in!) Magnesium is another major player in the mineral game when it comes to periods (and migraines and pooping and just chillaxin’).
You also already know about prostaglandins…
Prostaglandins are those substances that deal with inflammation, you ‘memba. They happened to be released when a woman begins her period and sheds her endometrial lining. Prostaglandins can constrict blood vessels in the uterus causing the uterus to contract, aka cramp.
FUN FACT: if you are someone who battles with migraines, nausea vomiting or fainting, it’s most likely because the extra prostaglandins can enter our bloodstream and make their way to your brain. Sorry, that wasn’t really that fun of a fact.
Remember how we talked about Omega-6 oils earlier and how they can be beneficial when they are in balance?
Back in the day, humans ingested Omega-6 and Omega-3 oils at a ratio of one to one. Now, we are consuming at a ratio of 15 to 1! So when it comes to your period, balancing out that ratio is key to a pain-free cycle. Because you know, prostaglandins.
Omega-6 fats are hard to overdo when getting them in their natural source like pine nuts, pecans and walnuts. It’s when we consume trans-fats and many of the unsaturated fats that have been altered during production or at high temperatures, that we become unbalanced. (I apologize for that awful sentence).
B.T.Dubs, this is including eating meat from animals who were grain-fed, which have the same amount of Omega-6 as grass-fed animals, but WAY less Omega-3.
Depending on the breed of cow, grass-fed beef contains between 2 and 5 times more omega-3s than grain-fed beef, and the average ratio of n-6:n-3 in grass-fed beef is 1.53:1. In grain-fed beef, this ratio jumps all the way up to 7.65:1. (Kresser, 2018)
Fats All Folks!
And with that my friends, this three-segment piece on the myths and lies associated with fat is complete (for now). If you are looking for a way to incorporate more real fat into your diet, I’ve got two books you’ll want to reserve at the library.
(FIRST OF ALL) Referencing Lambda, Lambda Lambda and Omega Mu’s after all that Omega talk. Revenge of the Nerds was wildly inappropriate for all us kids who watched it on HBO in the 80’s. Meh, different time.
Nicole Jardim. “Why Omega-3 Oils Can Help Relieve Period Pain.” Nicole Jardim, 24 June 2019, nicolejardim.com/cause-of-painful-periods-1/.
“Why Grass-Fed Trumps Grain-Fed.” Chris Kresser, 20 Aug. 2018, chriskresser.com/why-grass-fed-trumps-grain-fed/.
Fatty Acid Slides, Nutritional Therapy Association, 2019