Fan of fats

March 2, 2012

I recently read a book by Erasmus Udo called ‘Fats that heal, fats that kill’. This came after reading ‘Put your Heart in Your Mouth’ by Natasha Campbell-McBride, and Sally Fallon’s book called ‘Nourishing traditions’. Far from arguing the case for eliminating fats, these authors clearly explained the need to include them, only urging us to be discriminating about which kind, and to make good choices.

I’ve always been mystified about the phobia so many people have about fats since we naturally gravitate towards fat containing foods (as we similarly do with sweet foods – but that’s another story…). Fats satisfy, nourish, and it so happens, are absolutely essential for good health. The only thing bad about them is how we over-process, overheat and generally over-consume certain types.

Fats from both vegetables and animals supply the body with important sources of energy. They provide the building blocks for virtually all our cell membranes, particularly the brain, which itself is astonishingly over 60% fat. Fats give cells crucial properties such as lubrication and flexibility. Plus, they support a variety of hormones, and they enable us to make use of a host of vitamins. The scientific evidence for the politically correct theory for low fat intake is apparently flawed and erroneous.

To be fair, there is a lot of revisionist information about the importance of essential fatty acids (EFAs) – so called because the body can’t make them, so we must take them from the the foods we eat. These are necessary for the entire nervous system. Even before birth, they support the neurological and cognitive development of the fetus. This need continues into infancy, and is in fact, required throughout life for the efficient functioning of the neural network which enables us to transmit and receive messages to all parts of the body, as well as coordinate it.

EFAs are essential for proper brain function because they supply the necessary ingredients for the maintenance and repair of brain tissue. They maintain our ability to deal with a host of mental processing, focus and concentration functions. These affect learning and behaviour throughout life. EFAs are also linked to:
– elevated mood which can prevent or lift depression
– calmness and the ability to handle stress
– our powers of memory, keeping it from impairment or degeneration over time

When it comes to our highly active digestive tract, exposed to a range of foods, acids, external bacteria, and internal waste in transit, fats are a life-line. Consider the billions of cells and membranes in the tract, worn down and replaced every few days. This requires constant maintenance to resist and repair damage, and essential fatty acids are prime source material. When intake is low, it may compromise our ability to:
– keep the villi barrier tight, leading to permeability that triggers allergic disorders
– absorb and assimilate nutrients, leading to malabsorption disorders
– maintain a strong mucosa lining to prevent bacteria from entering the body resulting in inflammatory disorders
– prevent waste and toxins from being eliminated causing inflammatory or motility disorders

The lesson is: don’t shun your fats, they are essential for good health – educate yourself about them instead. Here are a couple of references:

Watch the wonderfully articulate (and smart) Dr. Natasha Campbell-McBride

Time for an oil change by Dr. Mark Hyman

Know your fats

Comments (1)

  1. Jude Whitehead, March 7, 2012

    Superb paper.

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