Eat Fat - Get Healthy!

Getting healthy and staying healthy is of vital importance to everyone. This should be as natural and easy as a walk in the park, but these days, even finding a park isn't easy. Our world has changed, and getting and staying healthy is a challenge! Our lack of real food contributes to this problem. While most people agree about the body's need for protein, carbohydrates, vitamins, minerals, and water, there is still confusion about eating fat. When you understand why your body needs fat, there won't be any question in your mind about whether or not you should eat fat. Instead, you will want to learn how to find the best fats, and how to avoid the worst ones.

Eating the right kind of fat provides us with a sustained source of energy, and is also a way to obtain the fat-soluble vitamins, A, D, E, and K. Eating fat also triggers the release of the hormone cholecystokinin, which tells our brain that we are satisfied, or full, for up to six hours. The release of this hormone will help you lose weight if this is one of your goals.

Good fats produce prostaglandins, which are hormone like substances that control the functioning of most of the body's life sustaining systems, such as the circulatory system, the heart, the skin, and the immune system. Lack of prostaglandins can make you susceptible to asthma, arthritis, high blood pressure, heart attacks, infertility, migraines and much more. The body can't store prostaglandins, but must manufacture them from a daily intake of the right fatty acids. Two of the prostaglandins, PGE1 and PGE3, are anti-inflammatory. These help your platelets flow smoothly through your heart and arteries so you don't have a stroke or heart attack. PGE2 is pro-inflammatory which helps with platelet clotting to protect us during injury. The consumption of various fatty acids also helps to control inflammatory related diseases, such as eczema, psoriasis, seborrhea, arthritis, and allergies - part of a beautiful system that is intricately designed to make us successful and healthy on this planet.

When you start eating more fats, you should know about the different types. There are two basic kinds, saturated and unsaturated. Not all saturated fats are bad and not all unsaturated fats are good. Saturated fats tend to be solid at room temperature and unsaturated fats tend to be more fluid. Unsaturated fats have two sub-groups, monounsaturated and polyunsaturated. Polyunsaturated fats have two subgroups, cis and trans. One of the polyunsaturated fats is good and the other is bad, sort of like a famous story about two brothers, Cane and Able. Like Cane, cis is the good guy. Cis has both hydrogen atoms on the same side of the carbon, but is not as stable as his brother, trans. Trans has hydrogen atoms on either side of the carbon and is very stable, which is why trans is so popular with food manufacturers. Trans fats are the bad ones you need to avoid because they will harm you. You will find that many processed foods advertise "0" trans-fats. Don't be fooled! It doesn't mean these foods don't have any trans fats. They redefined "0" to be less than 500mg/serving. For many foods, this means reducing the serving size to keep it under 500mg per serving. Keep in mind that trans fats may have started out as good fats, but changed into bad fats when heated to high temperatures, or processed to maintain a long shelf life.

The "Omega" numbering system, which was devised by chemists, helps categorize fats and oils. Although there is much to learn, the most important thing to remember is that Omega 3's and 6's are essential, which means that they need to be obtained from food. The primary Omega-3 fatty acid is alpha-linolenic acid (ALA) and may be found in walnuts, pumpkin seeds, flaxseeds and flaxseed oil, hemp seeds and dark green leafy vegetables. When our bodies are working perfectly, we are able to convert LNA into EPA, which can then be converted into DHA.

The most important thing to remember is that even if we don't know what to call them, all of these fats are extremely important to a healthy functioning body. This is why it is important to eat healthy oils, eat nourishing foods that contain fat, and supplement wisely. If you are eating a low fat diet, it is impossible to get enough of the healthy fat that you need to protect your brain and nervous system. Did you know that 60% of our brains are composed of fat?

When we are eating food that is part of the natural food chain, we can get some of the fats we need this way. Our ancestors were part of a hunter/gatherer society, and they ate animals that had been grazing - eating healthy greens, such as leaves from trees, grasses and shrubs. But now that grains are commonly used for feeding livestock and even fed to farm raised fish, our nutrition gets shortchanged. The animals aren't able to maintain their health and either are we. As a society, we are eating more processed, convenience foods to accommodate our busy lives. This means we need to supplement our diets with fish oil and/or flax seed oil capsules to get the Omega 3 oils our bodies thrived on for centuries. Vegetarians may use an alternative supplement derived from microalgae as a source of DHA.

Are you ready to start eating an abundance of good, healthy fats? If so, plan to eat raw, unprocessed, cold pressed oils for the greatest benefit, and buy foods with labels that say "wild caught " or "free range." The extra cost is well worth it when you consider that this is one of the best ways to get the essential fats that your body needs. Remember the motto "EAT FAT-GET HEALTHY!" Special thanks goes to Ann Louise Gittleman, ND, CNS, Dr. Royal Lee and many other mentors in this fascinating field.