Fats and why we need them to stay healthy
People who eat low fat diets often experience a multitude of health problems. They can typically suffer from symptoms of depression, fatigue, anxiety, mood swings, hypoglycaemia, insulin resistance, constant hunger, gall bladder problems (gas, bloating, acid-reflux, loose stools), hormonal imbalances, lack of menstruation and poor hair quality.
A certain amount of saturated fat is essential for good health.
The gall bladder needs fat. Bad fats, like processed vegetable oils, are difficult to digest and put a lot of stress on the gallbladder. The gallbladder is a little sac that sits alongside the liver. The liver produces bile, a substance made from cholesterol that emulsifies fat and makes it easier to digest. The gallbladder stores and concentrates bile, then secretes it into the small intestines when fats are present. If you don't eat fat, the gallbladder won't get any exercise and can begin to underfunction.
Lowering fat in the diet doesn't help you lose weight because fat actually sends a signal to your brain to tell you when to stop eating. So, if you don't get enough fat in a meal, you will never feel completely full and will usually end up overeating. Binge eating is very common for people on low fat diets and can essentially lead to more weight gain. Eating good fats in your diet helps to control and regulate your appetite so you don't have to eat as much to feel satisfied.
Another problem with low fat diets is that the fat is often replaced with carbohydrate and higher carbs can lead to low blood sugar episodes. When your blood sugar drops, your body goes into a storage mode and your metabolism slows down. Also, when you eat high-carb foods you trigger the release of insulin which tells your body to store fat, then your energy level drops with your blood sugar. So if you eat a high carb diet you will most likely lack the energy you need to exercise. Including good fats with every meal helps to keep your blood sugar stable.Low protein problems
People on a diet tend to avoid protein foods from animal sources because they contain saturated fats.
Not getting enough protein in your diet can lead to symptoms like weakness, fatigue, dry and brittle hair and nails, slow wound healing, chronic infections and sugar handling problems.
Another sign of protein deficiency is poor muscle tone. Often people on low fat diets find it difficult to lose weight or build muscle. The reason for this is that they simply lack the protein they need to build strong muscles. Also, the amino acids that we derive from protein are used to make neurotransmitters (mood building blocks) that actually help to control appetite, by reducing cravings and balancing mood swings.
Eating fat does not make you fat. The human brain is over 60 percent fat, our hormones are made from fat, and so is the outer layer of every cell in the body. Fat keeps the skin healthy, enhances the immune system, stabilises blood sugar and prevents diabetes. Good fats benefit the heart and normalise the blood fat and cholesterol.Butter
Butter is a rich source of fat soluble vitamins A, D, E and K. The saturated fat in butter actually enhances our immune function, protects the liver from toxins, provides nourishment for the heart in times of stress, gives stiffness and integrity to our cell membranes and aids in the proper utilisation of omega-3 essential fatty acids.Lard
Lard is a traditional, healthy, natural fat. Lard is rendered fat from pork and is mostly monounsaturated.
Lard can be a good source of vitamin D. Traditionally, lard has been used in pastries and for frying potatoes until the vegetable oil industry took over.
Tallow is used in traditional cultures for its health benefits. Tallow is rendered beef fat and is a very stable fat for frying.Cholesterol
Cholesterol is not a fat. Biochemically it's called a sterol. It contains no calories, so the body cannot derive any energy from it. Cholesterol forms an integral part of the cell membranes throughout your body, sort of like the mortar that holds a brick wall together. It is particularly important in the cellular structure of the brain and central nervous system.
Cholesterol is essential for the formation and maintenance of cell membranes, the insulation of nerve fibres (myelin sheath) and formation of the hormones progesterone, oestrogen, testosterone and cortisol. It is also essential for the production of bile salts which help to digest food. It is converted to vtamin D when sunlight falls on the skin, and also helps the body to manufacture vitamins.
The liver manufactures approximately 1 gram of cholesterol per day, even if you consume no cholesterol at all, and about 800 mg becomes bile salts for the digestion of fats, leaving 200mg for other functions.
Cholesterol enters the body from saturated fats in animal sources such as meat, poultry, egg yolks, liver, butter, cheese and other dairy products. The cholesterol goes to the liver where it joins the cholesterol that is made there. The cholesterol is transported from the liver to the cells by low density lipoproteins (LDL) travelling through the bloodstream and depositing cholesterol to the cells that need it.
If a cell already has enough cholesterol, it is not absorbed, and the excess LDL stays in the blood where the cholesterol is deposited in the walls of arteries, causing atherosclerotic plaque. The more plaque that builds up, the narrower the arteries become, until eventually the blood supply to vital organs is reduced. This is why LDLs are known as the bad cholesterol.
High density lipoproteins, or HDLs, are known as the good cholesterol. They travel through the bloodstream picking up excess cholesterol. The HDLs carry this excess cholesterol back to the liver, where it is incorporated into bile then eliminated through the intestines. How your liver handles cholesterol is determined primarily by genetics and secondly by your diet.
If you eliminate dietary cholesterol intake, the liver simply makes more to make up the difference because the body needs it to carry out its duties. Eliminating saturated fat from your diet doesn't help either, because the liver will make more cholesterol out of starch and sugar, simply because it's that necessary for life.
In addition to being made in the liver, every cell in your body can make the cholesterol it needs internally, also every cell in your body has the ability to take the cholesterol circulating in the blood and bring it into the cell for use. Numerous scientifically directed studies have repeatedly demonstrated that even massive changes in the dietary cholesterol consumption, up or down, have only a minor effect on total cholesterol levels.
Fast oxidisers or fast metabolisers generally have lower cholesterol levels and can eat more butter and other fatty foods as they burn up fats more rapidly and efficiently. Slow oxidisers or slow metabolisers should try to restrict fats, oils and butter.
Monounsaturated fats and polyunsaturated fats do not raise blood cholesterol. Polyunsaturated fats include safflower, sesame and sunflower seeds, corn and soybeans. Monounsaturated fats include canola, olive and peanut oils and avocados.Cholesterol levels should be within the following ranges:
Total cholesterol should not be greater than 220 mg/dL and should not be lower than 160 mg/dL. (180 mg/dL is a preferable low limit.)Good HDL cholesterol should not be less than 40 mg/dL.
Bad LDL cholesterol should not be more than 100 mg/dL.
Symptoms of low cholesterol
Depression - anxiety - mental impairment - suicidal thoughts - increased aggression and violence - impaired brain function - vitamin D deficiency - heart problems.Dangers of high total cholesterol
Atherosclerosis - heart disease - hardening and narrowing of the arteries - insulin resistance.
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