Fat – A Friend Of Mine?
I was born at the end of the ’70s and remember the time when our family still ate butter but quickly changed into margarine due to the propaganda in the media about
the “terrible harms” of butter. I still remember the argument between my mum and grandmother, where my mum was trying to convince the old school believer to swap into margarine because it was “healthier” and easier to spread, but my grandmother was immovable and convinced that the real butter was the only right choice to make. I’m pleased to realise how right the worldly-wise lady was after all!
So we as a family switched into low-fat foods in general and my grandmother kept her full-fat products in revere until she finally slept peacefully away (in great health), while the shift didn’t make our family any healthier. Probably because we cut back on healthy fats as well as harmful ones.
Nowadays I eat roughly around 3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil per day, along with other oils including cold-pressed coconut oil, MCT-oil and fish oils. Also, grass-fed butter and ghee (clarified butter) is a part of my daily diet – most of them in the morning and at lunchtime. All my foods are “full fat” versions as well as the meat and the oily fish I eat. I prefer to buy the organic “fatty” one instead of the “light” version. And I’m still not gaining weight. Instead, I have to remind myself to eat because I’m not getting cravings and I’m feeling satisfied longer after eating than ever before.
I can assure you I really did have cravings at one time! But the difference is that I’m eating hardly any sugars or refined carbohydrates nowadays. Yes, perhaps in my raw desserts, but those are not something I eat every day or in big portions. My carbs come mainly from fibre rich (non-starchy) vegetables, berries and fruits. Protein I usually get from chicken, fish or grass-fed beef as a side dish. Fats I receive either as added for preparing the food or naturally from fatty foods, nuts, seeds and quality fish oil in addition. I’m aiming for about 60% of the calories in my diet to become from fat, around 20/20 from carbs and proteins.
WHY FATS BECAME “BANNED”
The dietary guidelines since the 1960s are shifting from high carbohydrate, low-fat recommendations to current recommendations for lower carbohydrates and more healthy fats. Based on the flawed research (concerning fat and cholesterol) of Ancel Keys, MD., in the 1950s, conventional medicine long believed that fat, especially saturated fat, was responsible for heart disease and obesity, and saturated fat should be limited to 10% of daily calories. Carbohydrates were claimed to be better for the body and should be 60% of daily calories.
Eight Doctors give their perspective and research on the topic of Cholesterol and Saturated Fat and the role they play in human nutrition. They explain how the common perspective is flawed and is not based on good science. Present-day science shows that not only are cholesterol and saturated fat not bad for human health but they are actually beneficial.
In 1954 there was a live debate on the American TV where one of the panellists was scientist David Kritchevsky who at that time claimed that dairy and animal fat was the cause of heart and cardiovascular diseases and that all butter, lard, beef and eggs should be replaced with margarine, corn oil, chicken and cereals. One of the panellists was cardiologist Dudley White who had a different point of view and had shown in clinical studies that actually it’s the vegetable oils that might cause heart diseases, but that didn’t matter at the end of the panel show. The food industry, as well as the pharmaceutical industry, saw a huge potential. Later in the years, even Kritchevsky changed his opinion and today we know that there is no evidence between butter and cardiovascular disease.
The major problems began when people around the world started to follow these hastily assembled guidelines based on partial truth (lumping all fats together saying it’s bad). Obesity, heart disease and neurological problems became an epidemic. That was also a beginning for an era when grains and carbohydrates became readily available and sugary cereals and other processed food businesses started to flourish.
THE “BAN” HAS BEEN RELEASED
The latest research shows this claim of all fat being bad isn’t true. Even Time Magazine, known for accepted conventional medical advice, declared that science had been incorrect in a cover article called “Eat butter: Scientists labelled fat the enemy. They were wrong” (June 12, 2014). It’s actually the excess carbohydrates that are the real culprit in heart disease and obesity, not dietary fat.
Even The Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, the world’s largest organisation of food and nutrition professionals, commends the 2015 Dietary Guidelines Advisory Committee for drafting strong, evidence-based new recommendations for Americans (done every 5 years). These guidelines have far-reaching influences across the food supply, including American schools, government cafeterias, the military, food assistance programs, agricultural production, restaurant recipes, and industry food formulations as well as a worldwide statement.
Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics new guidelines in a very short summary:
1. The concern about the dietary cholesterol from nutrients is groundless.
2. The concern about saturated fat from nutrients is groundless.
3. The restriction for “normal” sodium consumption is groundless. (Western diet is loaded with salt, though!)
4. The main concern is sugar.
WHAT ARE THE “BAD FATS”
Low-quality unhealthy fat clogs up our blood vessel degrade our brain and promote oxidation and inflammation. Sometimes “unhealthy” fat is simply too much “good fat” when the good effects are turned harmful (such as omega-6 fatty acid). (1)
Trans fat is a byproduct of a process called hydrogenation that is used to turn healthy oils into solids and to prevent them from becoming rancid. It also makes the fat last longer and the production cheaper. As food makers learned new ways to use partially hydrogenated vegetable oils, they began appearing not only in margarine and vegetable shortening but also in everything from commercial cookies and pastries to fast-food French fries. Unfortunately, these fats, for example, develop cytokines and increase triglycerides in the blood and thereby cause a low-grade inflammatory process. Trans fats increase the risk of heart disease, stroke and type 2 diabetes and increase the risk of Alzheimer’s disease.
One of the big misleading studies in the 1950s and ’60s was about oxidised cholesterol and not the cholesterol itself. The sick brain seems to have, according to recent studies, a severe lack of cholesterol. Evidence shows that elderly people actually benefit from high cholesterol and the high cholesterol are scientifically connected to a long lifespan and memory functioning while low cholesterol has been associated with poorer memory, lower scores on abstract reasoning, attention and concentration, verbal fluency and executive function. Science has also managed to prove that the new synapses in the brain require cholesterol, that sleeks the cell membranes together and by doing so enables the signals easily go through the synapses. Cholesterol also helps fast information transfer in the brain. In other words, cholesterol enhances the right function and communication in the brain. Cholesterol also functions as an antioxidant in the brain and is a precursor of vitamin D, which is also a very strong tame for inflammation.
“Feed your head: Fatty acids make up to 60% of the brain’s solid matter. DHA and cholesterol are two key players. About a third of the brain’s fat consist of the omega-3 fatty acids (DHA). Although the brain has only 2% of the body’s weight, it has 25% of it’s cholesterol.” – “The neurogenesis diet & lifestyle, Update your brain, Upgrade your life” by Brant Cortright PH.D.
The problems occur when the cholesterol is oxidised. This can happen for example when vegetable oils are used for cooking and produce oxidised cholesterol. The body treats oxidised cholesterol and other oxidised fat like invading bacteria. Also, extra glucose (from sugar, carbohydrates or excess protein) that can not access into the cells because of the insulin resistance, can oxidise the LDL-cholesterol making it a “bad LDL” through LDL glycation (hence it’s a protein!). According to Dr David Perlmutter, the LDL cholesterol is not actually “bad cholesterol” at all like told, but a very important carrier protein that carries vital cholesterol into the brain and states an important role for example in Alzheimer’s disease. LDLs can turn dangerous when under oxidative stress. (6,7,8,9,10)
Dr David Perlmutter, an author of Grain Brain, explains the truth behind cholesterol, and why it isn’t the cholesterol, but grains and the inflammation they can cause, that are the true culprits.
“The fact is: cholesterol isn’t the harbinger of nutritional doom that many would have you believe. In fact, study after study has linked cholesterol to improved attention/concentration, learning, memory and abstract reasoning. All this has a great impact for our brain health.” -Dr. David Perlmutter in his book “Grain Brain”.
Dr Jonny Bowden claims that there is actually 5 different LDL (and HDL) cholesterol at least. These come in two patterns and not all of them are bad.
Unhealthy fats include:
- Oxidised fatty acids and oxidised cholesterol (from fried foods, burned meat, overcooked eggs, cooking with
- Vegetable oils and foods cooked in them, as well as from high blood sugar)
- Pro-inflammatory fats like omega-6 fatty acids (from vegetable oils) consumed too much in relation to omega-3
- Trans fat (a form of processed (hydrogenated) cooking oil. Found in processed food, snack food, packaged baked goods and fried fast food like French fries, pastries, cereals, most snack bars, saltine crackers, cookies, cream-filled candies, frozen pizza, microwave popcorn and some margarine)
The food label sometimes states “Trans fat: 0 grammes”, but if you check out the ingredient list, it might say “shortening,” “partially hydrogenated vegetable oil” or “hydrogenated vegetable oil,” and that means the food contains trans fat.”
Processed oils have changed chemical makeup and the fats are no longer good for you!
GOOD FATS HEALTH BENEFITS
Your body needs fat from food. It’s a major source of energy. It helps you absorb some oil-soluble vitamins and minerals and it’s the fuel of human metabolism, brain, nerves and body. Fat is needed to build cell membranes, the vital exterior of each cell, and the sheaths surrounding nerves. It is essential for blood clotting, muscle movement, and inflammation. For long-term health, some fats are better than others. Good, high-quality fats contribute to better cognition, better memory, faster learning and greater resistance to stress and depression. It seems to be extremely hard or even impossible to obtain a versatile healthy fat supply with purely vegetable food. Vegans, for example, tend to have severe deficiencies for vitamins A and B12 or omega-3 fatty acids.
Healthy fat benefits:
- Fat is essential to brain health
- Fat keeps your lungs working properly
- Fat boosts your immune system
- Fat keeps your largest organ healthy (skin)
- Fat is great for heart and blood pressure
- Fat can boosts your metabolism and helps with weight-loss
- Fat can help with diabetes
- Fat can help with osteoporosis
- Fat can help with cancer
Our brain loves healthy fats, stable blood sugar and rest!
WHERE DO I GET HEALTHY FATS?
Good fats include monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats. Bad ones include industrial-made trans fats. Saturated fats fall somewhere in the middle.
“Human milk fat ranges from 20 to 25 percent palmitic acid.”
Grass-fed butter or Ghee (a type of clarified butter)
Grass-fed butter has many positive effects on our health. Remarkably one of the benefits is that it’s an excellent source of good cholesterol. And as I mentioned earlier, the studies show that the cholesterol is needed for healthy cellular function. It also has an important role in brain functions. Milk fat contains over 400 different fatty acids. Brain, heart and intestinal love butter as it’s a great source of vitamin A and K2, E, lecithin, selenium and it also contains small amounts of vitamin D. Milk fat, as well as other animal fats, contains useful lauric acid (antiviral and antibacterial), palmitic acid (cell membrane communication) and butyric acid (preventing cancer).
68 percent of the fat protecting the lungs is palmitic acid (found in butter). Without this lipid protein mixture it would be impossible to breath. Some studies show connection between asthma and allergies and the lack of good fats in the diet. In the case of lungs, especially saturated fats, vitamins A and D, which are all found in butter.
Grass-fed butter can protect the heart and prevent diabetes (research made in Harvard 2010). It contains omega-6 and 3-fatty acids in a great balance and also the medium-chain fatty acids that the body uses for energy and to work against inflammation. Butter is a great source of minerals such as manganese, chromium, zinc, copper and selenium (a powerful antioxidant). It also contains iodine (the thyroid cannot function without iodine to make the hormone thyroxine).
The Wulzen or “anti-stiffness” factor – Present in raw butter, cream and whole milk (destroyed by pasteurisation) protects humans/animals from degenerative arthritis, hardening arteries, cataracts. Calves fed pasteurised or skim milk will not thrive until raw butterfat is added back into their diet.
Virgin Coconut Oil
Coconut oil doesn’t oxidise as easily as soft vegetable fats like canola oil which means coconut oil is great for cooking. It contains a lot of medium-chain fatty acids (including Caprylic acid, Lauric acid and Capric acid), which means that it’s easy for the liver to produce energy of them. Some athletes have found coconut oil very useful to maintain quick energy and boost their immunity. Virgin coconut oil also boosts metabolism and increases the body temperature. So if you feel frozen, try 1 tbs virgin coconut oil before a meal, 3 times a day. That works for weight loss too!
Coconut is one of the best superfoods available. Here are 8 medically-based reasons you should be consuming coconut every day.
Why I use coconut oil:
- Helps boost my immune system (antibacterial, antifungal, and antiviral)
- Reduces inflammation
- Improves memory and brain function
- Helps me get into ketosis
- Improves energy and endurance
- Improves digestion
- Protects the skin
- Helps candida and yeast infection
- Balance hormones
Our intestinal needs fat. Especially virgin coconut oil is a great natural gut supporter and fat metabolism booster so it also helps with weight control.
Then what is an MCT-oil and what does it have to do with coconut oil? Joan Clark has written a great article about this superior brain fuel: 16 Stunning Benefits of MCT-oil.
Healing Foodie Recommends
- 100% Certified Organic Raw Virgin Coconut Oil
- Cold processed and non-GM
- Produced from raw fresh coconut flesh and not dried copra
- Highly nutritious food, a delicious culinary ingredient and is one of the finest cooking oil you can use. Unlike most vegetable oils, it is resistant to the breakdown of fatty acid chains even at higher cooking temperature.
See more than 1600 studies proving coconut health benefits here.
We need daily essential omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids and especially the omega-3 is probably the single most important nutrient for our brain health. Omega-3s provide the raw material for neuronal growth and they balance the insulin level. Our body can’t formulate these fatty acids by itself so we need to get them from our diet. Omega-3 and omega-6 have to be in balance to achieve optimal health. For most human evolution the ratio of anti-inflammatory omega-3 to pro-inflammatory omega-6 was about 1:1 or 1:2. But unfortunately, our western diet contains a whole lot of omega-6 and we are lacking omega-3. The pro-inflammatory omega-6s come to us through polyunsaturated vegetable oils such as corn, soy, safflower, cottonseed, sunflower (not olive, coconut or canola, however), processed foods and through conventional meats and eggs. Gaining too much of omega-6 can increase inflammation in the body. The fish oil (see the chart) is the best way to receive the most important omega-3 fatty acids such as eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) and docosahexaenoic acid (DHA). It’s considerable that grass-fed beef has healthier omega-3 and -6 ratio than grain-fed.
Brain disorders and omega-3
Bipolar disorder is a disorder of the brain that is characterised by periods of depression and mania. Like many brain-related diseases such as depression and ADHD, there is a hypothesis that omega-3 fatty acids, particularly DHA, may play a role in its pathophysiology and possibly its treatment.
Drs. McNamara and Welge of the University of Cincinnati School of Medicine performed a meta-analysis on all the available case-control studies that compared the long-chain polyunsaturated fatty acid blood levels of people with (cases) and without the bipolar disorder (controls). Importantly, they chose to measure fatty acid levels in red blood cells, like OmegaQuant’s Omega-3 Index, because it is the most reliable marker of DHA status. The conclusion was that bipolar disorder is associated with DHA deficits. These findings add to a growing body of evidence implicating omega-3 deficiency in the pathophysiology of bipolar disorder.
A study made in the University of Oxford came to the conclusion that improving Omega-3 status may lead to benefits in child behaviour and learning. In line with previous studies, they found that lower blood concentrations of Omega-3 are associated with poorer reading and working memory performance, as well as more parent-rated behaviour problems in otherwise healthy school children. Health problems were also lower in children with higher levels of DHA.
Healthy fats include:
- Monounsaturated fats (like extra-virgin olive oil, olives, avocados, almond milk)
- saturated fats (from grass-fed meat, organic or pasture-fed butter, ghee, eggs, yoghurt, coconut and coconut oil)
- unsaturated omega-3s (from fish oil, flax oil, almond milk, raw nuts and seed such as lax-, sunflower,-pumpkin,-sesame,- and chia seeds, spirulina and wakame)
Grass-fed beef and pasture-raised eggs and dairy have much higher amounts of protective omega-3s to counterbalance the omega-6s.
Note! good fats can go bad:
Good fat can become bad if heat, light, or oxygen damages it.
- Polyunsaturated oils must be refrigerated.
- Cooking at high heat with some unsaturated oils can damage the fat. (butter and coconut oil can tolerate the high heat)
- Discard oils, seeds, or nuts if they smell or taste bitter.
KETOGENIC DIET (MODIFIED ATKINS) BROUGHT BACK THE JOY OF LIFE TO A SEVERE EPILEPTIC YOUTH
In this report (only in Finnish) authors describe a developmentally severely disabled 26-year-old man, whose epilepsy settled, autistic features were alleviated, behavioural problems disappeared, skin condition improved and whose weight and blood lipid and glucose values have remained normal for one year during a modified Atkins diet. In this case, almost all the carbohydrates were eliminated from the diet like bread, potatoes, vegetables, fruits, berries, liquid dairy products (except cream and sour cream) as well as all the sugars. The diet consisted mainly of good oils, cream, eggs and meat.
Original article in Finnish: http://www.terveysportti.fi/xmedia/duo/duo98639.pdf
More articles about the ketogenic diet with epileptics in English here.
“The problem with heart disease, diabetes, metabolic syndrome, cognitive decline and Alzheimer’s disease appear to be connected to eating unhealthy fats, not healthy fats, as well as too much sugar and other carbohydrate food.” – Brant Cortright PH.D. “The neurogenesis diet & lifestyle, Update your brain, Upgrade your life”
FAT DOESN’T MAKE US FAT AND ILL, IT’S THE SUGAR
Instead of accusing saturated fats, we should look into the insulin resistance. Diets high in sugar and low in fibre fuel unwanted bacteria, increase intestinal permeability, mitochondrial damage, immune-system compromise and widespread inflammation that reaches the brain. Too much insulin in the body causes all kinds of problems. High insulin, for example, keeps body fat as a hostage and not letting the body lose weight even through exercise. Chronic high blood sugar causes chronic inflammation in the body when the cell functions become disturbed and more free-radicals can activate (oxidation). Free radicals again increase chronic inflammation. And the vicious circle is there as all of these further assault microbial balance.
Fatty acids in nutrition help to balance blood sugar and insulin. Fat in the food makes it digest slower and when the insulin secretion is moderate, it helps the body to use the “stored” fat as energy. Glucose quickly runs out of use and that’s when the body turns to reach fat as an energy source, whether it’s from the food or our body fat. In other words, the fat we eat helps the fat we storage to break down for energy.
In another case where carbohydrate-based foods are eaten and you fill your body with more “fuel” than it actually needs, your liver’s sugar storage capacity is exceeded. When the liver is maximally full, the excess sugar is converted by the liver into fatty acids and the insulin level stays high and body fat is not released or solidified for use but instead stored more into the body.
Extra body fat that is stored “deep” in one’s body and wrapped around major organs, is called visceral fat. It’s dangerous because it can change the way our body operates. It acts like its own organ by pumping out hormones and inflammatory substances (cytokines) that effect instantly for the body and brain degeneration causing chronic inflammation. Visceral fat affects the hormones that regulate the appetite, weight, mood and brain function.
- book: “The neurogenesis diet & lifestyle, Update your brain, Upgrade your life” by Brant Cortright, PhD.
- book: “Parantavat Rasvat (Healing Fats)” by Taija Somppi, MD and exercise physiologist Jani Somppi (in Finnish)
- book: “Grain Brain” by David Perlmutter, MD
- book: “Grain Brain” by David Perlmutter, MD
- book: “Wheat Belly” by William Davis, MD
- book: “Brain Maker” by David Perlmutter, MD
Note! I’m a Nutritional Therapist, not a doctor or a nutritionist, and I have learned my way through the hard way: by studying, experimenting, reading and investigating. All material on this website is provided for your information only and may not be construed as medical advice or instruction. No action or inaction should be taken based solely on the contents of this information; instead, readers should consult appropriate health professionals on any matter relating to their health and well-being. The Healing Foodie is not responsible for errors or omissions.