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The Happy Side of Fat

For decades fat in the diet has been depicted as an enemy of the people. We have avoided it like the plague, and food manufacturers have done everything possible to take it out of our foods. The downside?

Fat = Flavor

Without fat, foods taste bad. In order to keep food tasting good, food manufacturers replaced fat with sugar--and lots of it.

Despite the lack of fat in the diet, our population has become much more overweight, riddled with chronic diseases such as diabetes, heart disease, arthritis--the list goes on. What’s worse is that we are seeing these conditions at an even younger age.

When I first started practicing my average patient was female, aged 45-65. While I treat both male and female patients, it seems that women are more likely to seek out alternative medicine.

Around the age of 45 or later women started to notice things not responding the same in their bodies. Frustrated with traditional medical care, they sought out something a little different.

Now, after 20 years in practice, I find the same type of person with the same type of complaints coming in but they are much younger. Women in their late teens and early twenties are experiencing the same symptoms as the women I saw 15-20 years ago... but back then but back then they were 45 years old and older.

Certainly not all these conditions are attributed to a fat deficiency; there are many variables such as the increasing amount of sugar in the diet, the deluge of toxins we are exposed to on a daily basis, and even the ever-mounting levels of stress in the modern era.

That said, today we’ll discuss the impacts of a fat deficient diet as well as the benefits of adding fat back into your life.

Benefits of Fats

There are many benefits of fat. When I say fat I am referring to natural fats. Fats that are synthetic and rancid are very harmful. These include hydrogenated and partially hydrogenated oils. You will see these listed on many food labels.

So what then are the benefits of good fats?

They are a concentrated source of energy producing 9 calories of energy/gram of fat. This translates to 2 times more than protein or carbohydrates. Essentially you get more bang for your buck. Fortunately, most (if not all) foods that are high in protein are also high in fat.

Fats are

  • The building blocks of cell membranes, hormones and hormone-like substances

  • Carriers of fat soluble vitamins A, D, E, F and K

  • Needed for mineral absorption

  • Needed for conversion of carotene to vitamin A

  • Necessary for immune and nervous system function

These are all wonderful benefits of fat.

Consequences of Fat Deficiency

Now that we've discussed the benefits of fats, what are the negative effects of not having enough of the good fats?

According to a study referenced in The Vitamins in Medicine, 1953 3rd Ed., Burr describes the effects of animals on a fat starvation diet developed:

  • Dryness and roughness of the skin resulting in eczema

  • Seborrheic scurf

  • Loss of luster and resilience of hair and nails become brittle, splits easily and hair falls out

  • Pituitary insufficiency

  • Sterility different from vitamin E deficiency

  • Severe nephritis leading to death

I hope we are beginning to see the importance of fats in the diet.

To put on fine point on it,

“In Framingham, MA, the more saturated fat one ate, the more cholesterol on ate, the more calories on ate, the lower people’s serum cholesterol… we found that the people who ate the most cholesterol, ate the most saturated fat, ate the most calories weighed the least and were the most physically active.”

-William Castelli, Director

The Framingham Study

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