If you’re like me and grew up in the 90s, then chances are you knew the words to “Can’t Touch This,” idolized Michael Jordan and ate a low fat diet. I’m talking skim milk, fat-free cookies and fat-free chips. Fast forward twenty plus years and the supermarket aisles are still devoted to low-fat and no-fat products. However, we are starting to see a shift. It is hard to ignore the many success stories wielded by the Paleo Diet and the words “Eat Butter” on the cover of Time Magazine. Thankfully, it looks like the western world is slowly opening its eyes to the many health benefits of increasing one’s fat intake.
At Truth + Wellness, we believe that healthy fats are an essential component of well-being. That’s why we’ve decided to devote a 2-part series on the benefits of high quality fat in one’s diet. This post will cover four reasons fats do a body good. Here we go:
Fats monitor inflammation — the body’s natural healing mechanism
The two most notable fats or fatty acids are omega-6 fatty acids and omega-3 fatty acids. Both of these essential fatty acids form the foundations for hormone-like substances called prostaglandins. It is the prostaglandins that are primarily responsible for the body’s natural healing process called inflammation.
We typically associate inflammation with negative images of swelling, redness and pain. That only tells part of the story behind inflammation. You see, in order to repair itself, the body needs to inflame and then anti-inflame — think about a paper cut. It gets red, puffy, sore and inflamed in order to heal. Then the inflammation goes away once it’s job is done. Omega-6 fatty acids are pro-inflammatory and omega-3 fatty acids are anti-inflammatory. Our bodies need an omega-6 to omega-3 fatty acids ratio of 1:1, however, most Americans have a ratio of 20:1! This means mega inflammation without the ability to anti-inflame which means rampant amounts of inflammatory diseases — things like heart disease, diabetes and arthritis.
Fats are an excellent source of concentrated energy
1 gram of fat equals 9 calories, while 1 gram of carbohydrate equals approximately 4 calories. That means that for every gram of fat you eat, you get more than double the amount of energy than that of one gram of carbohydrate. In plain English this means that fat fills you up! And that’s a good thing because it’s nature’s way of telling you to eat less. Overeating can occur when you remove the fats — it’s your body telling you to get satiated!
You need fats in order to use key vitamins
Vitamins A, D, E and K are fat soluble vitamins, meaning that your body can only absorb them in the presence of fat. Each of these vitamins play important roles in the body. For example, Vitamin A is important for healthy vision. Vitamin D enables the body to absorb calcium to build bones and strengthens the body’s immune system. Vitamin E builds strong hair, nails and skin. Finally, Vitamin K helps with blood clotting, builds strong bones and makes cells more sensitive to insulin. If you’re eating a low-fat diet or a no-fat diet, then chances are you’re missing out on the health benefits provided by these fat-soluble vitamins.
Our lives depend on it
Plain and simple, fatty acids are the precursors for many of the body’s hormones. For example, sex hormones like estrogen, progesterone and testosterone are formed from cholesterol (a fat). Without dietary fatty acids, it would be fairly difficult to create a baby or to go through menopause gracefully. What’s more, our cell membranes are made of fatty acids. That’s right, our body’s most basic unit needs fats in order to be strong, healthy and function well. Think about it, that’s a big deal!
Stay tuned for Part II of our series on healthy fats next week where we will discuss the best sources of healthy fats and which fats you absolutely must avoid. Until then, stay true and be well.