Did you read yesterday's post on My Journey To Better Health Through A Nourishing, Traditional, Real Food Diet? If not, you should! This post will make a lot more sense that way!
Goodness how I LOVE fat! Honestly, I forgot how much I loved it and how good it tastes. I am overjoyed that I have now embraced the fact that eating and drinking good fats (in abundance – NOT moderation) is actually beneficial to my entire well being. It has made a difference in my physical and mental health. When your body is healthy, your mind is healthy. Really. You don't realize or respect how much those two are interconnected until you really are healthy!
The big ticket item when a person embarks upon the journey of eating a traditional diet is fat. This is extremely daunting. I will admit, the thought of drinking whole milk and cooking with real butter and tropical oils made me cringe and want to puke my guts out. I was soooooo terrified that I would gain an unimaginable amount of weight. But the research and the science was there to prove that a diet rich in unprocessed fats was going to help me A) Lose weight if I needed to; B) Gain weight if I was undernourished; and C) Maintain my ideal weight naturally without pills, gobs of exercise, counting calories/points/etc… or obsessively reading labels. It was also going to save me money because I would be eating foods that truly counted, that my body needed and not craved, and that portion for portion, I would require less real food because it would satiate me for long periods of time.
Let's look at the dietary myths surrounding fats and other “recommended guidelines” as outlined in Nourishing Traditions by Sally Fallon and supported in depth on the Weston A. Price website (www.westonaprice.org).
“Avoid saturated fats.” Saturated fats play many important roles in the body. They provide integrity to the cell wall, promote the body's use of essential fatty acids, enhance the immune system, protect the liver and contribute to strong bones. The lungs and the kidneys cannot work without saturated fat. Saturated fats do not cause heart disease. In fact, saturated fats are the preferred food for the heart. Because your body needs saturated fats, it makes them out of carbohydrates and excess protein when there are not enough in the diet.
“Limit cholesterol.” Dietary cholesterol contributes to the strength of the intestinal wall and helps babies and children develop a healthy brain and nervous system. Foods that contain cholesterol also provide many other important nutrients. Only oxidized cholesterol, found in most powdered milk and powdered eggs, contributes to heart disease. Powdered milk is added to 1% and 2% milk.
“Use more polyunsaturated oils.” Polyunsaturates in more than small amounts contribute to cancer, heart disease, autoimmune diseases, learning disabilities, intestinal problems and premature aging. Large amounts of polyunsaturated fats are new to the human diet, due to the modern use of commercial liquid vegetable oils. Even olive oil, a monounsaturated fat considered to be healthy, can cause imbalances at the cellular level if consumed in large amounts.
“Avoid red meat.” Red meat is a rich source of nutrients that protect the heart and nervous system; these include vitamins B12 and B6, zinc, phosphorus, carnitine and coenzyme-Q10.
“Cut back on eggs.” Eggs are nature's perfect food, providing excellent protein, the gamut of vitamins and important fatty acids that contribute to the health of the brain and nervous system. Americans had less heart disease when they ate more eggs. Egg substitutes cause rapid death in test animals.
“Restrict salt.” Unrefined Celtic Sea Salt is crucial to digestion and assimilation. Salt is also necessary for the development and function of the nervous system because it provides vital minerals.
“Eat lean meat and drink lowfat milk.” Lean meat and lowfat milk lack fat-soluble vitamins needed to assimilate the protein and minerals in meat and milk. Consumption of lowfat foods can lead to depletion of vitamin A and D reserves. This actually causes weight gain, not weight loss.
“Limit fat consumption to 30 percent of calories.” Thirty percent calories as fat is too low for most people, leading to low blood sugar and fatigue. Traditional diets contained 30 percent to 80 percent of calories as healthy fats, mostly of animal origin.
“Eat 6-11 servings of grains per day.” Most grain products are made from white flour, which is devoid of nutrients. Additives in white flour can cause vitamin deficiencies. Whole grain products can cause mineral deficiencies and intestinal problems unless properly prepared.
“Eat at least 5 servings of fruits and vegetables per day.” Fruits and vegetables receive an average of 10 applications of pesticides, from seed to storage. Consumers should seek out organic produce. Quality counts!
“Eat more soy foods.” Modern soy foods block mineral absorption, inhibit protein digestion, depress thyroid function and contain potent carcinogens. Soy is really nasty stuff. I won't even walk past it in the grocery aisle, that is how scared I am of it now. (For some real scary reading, click here to learn more about how soy will eventually kill you and the detrimental impact it has on sperm count in boys.) http://www.westonaprice.org/soy-alert.html)
I'm sure most of you are sitting there, eyes glazed over thinking, yeah, ok, whatever. Preach on Jennifer but I'm still eating low-fat and using vegetable oils. You can take your fats and spin. Well, ok. I'll spin with all the newfound energy that was lost for years! I think it is important to look at saturated fats since America has been bamboozled into avoiding these like the plague. Perhaps your eyes will lose a little glaze and maybe, just maybe, you will have an a-ha moment!
Saturated fats, such as butter, meat fats, coconut oil and palm oil, tend to be solid at room temperature. According to conventional nutritional dogma, these traditional fats are to blame for most of our modern diseases–heart disease, cancer, obesity, diabetes, malfunction of cell membranes and even nervous disorders like multiple sclerosis. However, many scientific studies indicate that it is processed liquid vegetable oil–which is laden with free radicals formed during processing–and artificially hardened vegetable oil–called trans fat–that are the culprits in these modern conditions, not natural saturated fats.
Humans need saturated fats because we are warm blooded. Our bodies do not function at room temperature, but at a tropical temperature. Saturated fats provide the appropriate stiffness and structure to our cell membranes and tissues. When we consume a lot of liquid unsaturated oils, our cell membranes do not have structural integrity to function properly, they become too “floppy,” and when we consume a lot of trans fat, which is not as soft as saturated fats at body temperature, our cell membranes become too “stiff.”
Contrary to the accepted view, which is not scientifically based, saturated fats do not clog arteries or cause heart disease. In fact, the preferred food for the heart is saturated fat; and saturated fats lower a substance called Lp(a), which is a very accurate marker for proneness to heart disease.
Saturated fats play many important roles in the body chemistry. They strengthen the immune system and are involved in inter-cellular communication, which means they protect us against cancer. They help the receptors on our cell membranes work properly, including receptors for insulin, thereby protecting us against diabetes. The lungs cannot function without saturated fats, which is why children given butter and full-fat milk have much less asthma than children given reduced-fat milk and margarine. Saturated fats are also involved in kidney function and hormone production. Saturated fats are required for the nervous system to function properly, and over half the fat in the brain is saturated. Saturated fats also help suppress inflammation. Finally, saturated animal fats carry the vital fat-soluble vitamins A, D and K2, which we need in large amounts to be healthy.
Human beings have been consuming saturated fats from animals products, milk products and the tropical oils for thousands of years; it is the advent of modern processed vegetable oil that is associated with the epidemic of modern degenerative disease, not the consumption of saturated fats.
(For more information on the science behind my brief look at saturated fats, see http://healthyfixx.com/food-and-diet/1/busting-the-myths-of-saturated-fat which offers a recent article on our misconceptions about consuming saturated fats; http://www.healthy-eating-politics.com/eating-healthy.html – a quick blurb that is well worth your time; http://articles.mercola.com/sites/articles/archive/2002/08/17/saturated-fat1.aspx which is Part 1 in a 3 part series that you should take the time to read and digest if you are really, truly interested in converting your eating habits and lifestyle. You need to read all three parts in the series. The article might seem daunting but honestly, it is easy to understand and will make a lot of sense to anyone who has a basic grasp of food.
And to sum up for those of you who are still reading and haven't decided to quit reading my blog because you think that I am certifiable, the following nutrient-rich traditional fats have nourished healthy population groups for thousands of years and are what I have successfully incorporated into our lifestyle:
- Tallow and suet from beef and lamb
- Lard from pigs
- Chicken, goose and duck fat
- Coconut, palm and palm kernel oils
- Extra virgin olive oil (also OK for cooking at lower temperatures)
- Expeller-expressed sesame and peanut oils
- Expeller-expressed flax oil (in small amounts)
For Fat-Soluble Vitamins
- Fish liver oils such as cod liver oil (preferable to fish oils, which do not provide fat-soluble vitamins, can cause an overdose of unsaturated fatty acids and usually come from farmed fish.)
And as a reminder, the following newfangled fats can cause cancer, heart disease, immune system dysfunction, sterility, learning disabilities, growth problems and osteoporosis:
- All hydrogenated and partially hydrogenated oils
- Industrially processed liquid oils such as soy, corn, safflower, cottonseed and canola
- Fats and oils (especially vegetable oils) heated to very high temperatures in processing and frying.
I promise I'm closing up shop but for those of you who are parents, aunts, uncles, grandparents, etc… here is an article that is a must read for the long term health of your children: http://www.westonaprice.org/traditional-diets/622-ancient-dietary-wisdom.html
Until next time when I discuss HOW I went about incorporating all of these dietary changes as well as all the work I still have ahead of me.
Be sure to check out my Products I Love page for information on where to purchase coconut oil!
Don't forget to read the other posts in my Coconut Health series!