Fat is our friend, and not eating enough good fats could exacerbate hormonal imbalances - including thyroid hormones.
However, when I talk about fats in conjunction with a healing diet, I’m referring to those wonderful healthy fats derived from both animal and vegetable sources that are nutrient rich and that help carry these nutrients around our body.
These fats help lower bad cholesterol, help us shed excess weight, provide building blocks for our cell membranes, help our hormones to work properly, insulate our body and protect our organs as well as help to strengthen our hair, skin and nails. And yes, this does includes animal fats, and in fact, animal fats are essential to our overall good health, proper growth, fertility and longevity and are rich sources of the fat-soluble vitamins A, D and K2.
so what “healthy fats” do i mean?
OILS | coconut oil, olive oil, avocado oil, flaxseed oil*, ghee*, butter*
ANIMAL FAT | lard, bacon fat, duck fat, goose fat, tallow
NUTS* | almonds, cashews, brazil, pecans, walnuts, pine nuts, pistachios, hazelnuts
SEEDS* | sesame, pepitas, sunflower, chia, hemp, flax
COCONUT | milk, cream and the flesh
ORGANIC PASTURED EGGS*
*Denotes foods not suitable if following the Autoimmune Protocol
The fats we want to avoid include all industrially processed liquid vegetable oils (including corn, soy, canola, safflower and sunflower). Partially hydrogenated vegetable oils (including margarine and shortening) and all commercial fried and processed foods. Yuck!
does fat make you fat?
Numerous studies have since debunked this myth, and it’s been proven there is no evidence that dietary saturated fat increases a person’s risk for coronary heart disease or cardiovascular disease.
Did you know that over the past 80 years, dietary cholesterol intake has increased by only 1%? However, during these same 80 years, the percentage of those yucky dietary vegetable oils (margarine, shortening and refined oils) has increased about 400%!!!! At the same time, the consumption of sugar and processed foods increased about 60%. Food for thought, right!
However, not all fats are created equal.
know your fats
LONG-CHAIN SATURATED FAT (LCSFA) | These fats are found mostly in the milk and meat of ruminant animals like cattle and sheep. They form the core structural fats found in our body and are easily burned as energy. They have no known toxicity – even at very high doses. The majority of the fats you consume should be these.
MEDIUM-CHAIN TRIGLYCERIDES (MCT) | Are another type of saturated fat found in coconut and in mother’s milk. These fats metabolize differently than the above long-chain saturated fats as they don’t require bile acids for digestion and they pass directly to the liver. This makes MCTs a great source of easily digestible energy.
MONOUNSATURATED FAT (MFA) | Found primarily in beef, olive oil, avocados, lard and certain nuts like macadamias. Like the above saturated fats, MFA’s form the core structural fats found in our body and are also non-toxic, even at high doses. Interestingly, monounsaturated fats seem to be the only fats that typically fat-phobic groups and low-carb groups can agree are completely healthy. Just a note on these fats though - like nuts and avocados - they do contain significant amounts of the dreaded omega 6 polyunsaturated fats (see below).
The above three fats should form the bulk of your fat intake.
In addition to their lack of toxicity, eating these fats will also help:
- Reduce your risk of heart disease
- Increase muscle mass (muscle is composed of equal weights of fat and protein)
- Stabilize your energy and mood as fat provides a steadier supply of energy throughout the day than carbohydrate, which can cause fluctuations in blood sugar
omega-6 and omega-3
Polyunsaturated fat can be subdivided into omega-6 and omega-3.
Ideally we should be eating roughly the same amount of omega-6 and omega-3 fats (1:1 ratio). Unfortunately, in today’s world our ratio is climbing up to 20:1! It is this excess consumption of omega-6 fat (and not cholesterol and saturated fat) that is now being found to be responsible for the modern epidemics of cardiovascular disease, type 2 diabetes, obesity, metabolic syndrome, autoimmune disease and so much more.
Small quantities of omega 6 can be found in a wide variety of foods including fruits, vegetables, cereal grains and meat. However, it is also found in HUGE quantities of commercially processed foods and refined oils, like soybean, cottonseed, corn, safflower and sunflower. Basically – it can be found in everything from the commercial salad dressings we buy to fried chips from the local shop!
Omega 3, on the other hand, can help:
- reduce inflammation in the body, reducing joint pain
- improve cardiovascular health and balance cholesterol levels
- stabilise blood sugar levels
- improving mood and prevent depression
- boost immunity
If you want to heal from any chronic health condition – you must reduce inflammation in your body. One of the best ways to do this is to get more omega-3 fats in your diet!