I am officially changing things up on A No Grainer. For the next few months I will be taking it right back to basics to give you some pearls of wisdom, readily applicable to your everyday food and lifestyle habits.
Today I am kicking off my 5 Quick…series. Short and informative articles. If there is a topic you’d like to learn five quick reasons about then please get in touch via the contact page.
Today I am starting with what I believe is one of the WORST nutrition lies out there. That saturated fat is somehow evil. It isn’t and in fact is absolutely essential to life and health. Here’s 5 quick reasons to eat more of it!
1. Saturated fat is the building blocks for each and every CELL in your body
The cell membrane is the largest area of the cells in our body and surrounds the cytoplasm and cell nucleus.
The very important cell membrane, acts as a cushioning layer between the cell and its surroundings. The cell membrane contains a lipid bilayer that full of fatty acids, especially saturated fatty acids and cholesterol. Without enough fats in the membrane the cell becomes soft and floppy, not buoyant and healthy.
The cell membrane also regulates the transfer of nutrients in and out of the cell. These transfers are of food that nourish the cells (in) and removal of waste to ensure cells don’t become toxic (out).
Our cells NEED fat for protection and nutrition, and so do you!
2. Your hormones are made from saturated fat
The very important stress/glucose regulating hormone, cortisol is made from cholesterol. Your sex hormones progesterone, testosterone and oestrogen, are all made from cholesterol. Vitamin D is made from cholesterol and we all know how important that is. And where does cholesterol come from? Good old saturated fat.
There is NO “good” or “bad” cholesterol – both are vital. I will cover this in a later post.
Cholesterol and fatty acids are the critical building blocks of our hormones and without enough cholesterol available the body has to compensate. If your body has to choose between survival (stress hormones) and reproduction (sex hormones), which one is it going to choose? Survival of course!
This is why people who eat a low-fat diet often have dysregulated hormones and women often have troublesome menstrual cycles.
The solution? Nourish yourself with healthy saturated fats that contain cholesterol. We need it!
3. Fatty acids regulate your body’s inflammatory processes
Inflammation in the body is regulated by chemicals called prostaglandins. There are three types of prostaglandins, some promote inflammation and others are anti-inflammatory.
Inflammation is a critical healing process for the body. Inflammation is your body sending its arsenal of immune defences to protect the body against infection and injury. You need to be able to inflame and then uninflamed for health.
Prostaglandins are made from…you guessed it, fatty acids. To maintain a healthy balance of inflammatory processes you need to feed yourself a variety of healthy fats and that includes saturated fats.
4. Eating saturated fat regulates appetite and helps weight loss
Fats act in a completely different way to carbohydrates in the body. The take a much longer time to be fully broken down and assimilated and so they keep you feeling full for a much longer time. Carbohydrate turns straight into glucose, which causes a spike in blood sugar. High blood sugar (and low blood sugar) are toxic so using the hormone insulin our bodies must quickly store glucose.
When we have excessive amounts of carbohydrate (following the government’s recommended intake certainly counts as excessive) then some will be stored as fat. Following the storage our blood sugar drops and we feel hungry, and often hangry, again.
In contrast, eating fat teaches our body how to effectively burn fat as a fuel source. That way when we run out of energy from the food we put into our mouths, our body can easily tap into the ample energy reserves (ie body fat) that we have.
To teach your body to burn fat we need to eat fat. And saturated fats are some of the most nourishing and tasty…
5. Saturated fat tastes bloody delicious!
There is a reason fat tastes great and it stems from our biological attraction to nutrient rich foods. The human body evolved to what we are today during our time as hunter-gatherers. No matter where you ancestors come from, before the agricultural revolution they will have hunted wild animals or at the very least eaten insects.
Big fat animals are the most nutrient dense foods you can eat (no this has not changed). For survival we are attracted to the foods that will nourish us most and see us through a few days. This is why we are attracted to fatty foods.
You’re not smarter than biology, so stop denying the natural signs to eat saturated fat!
What is saturated fat?
The much-demonised saturated fat (learn about the lies behind our fear of saturated fat here) tend to be fats that are in a solid form at room temperature. They have no double bonds, which means that they are safest for cooking (learn all about fat chemistry here).
If you’ve adhered to a low-fat diet and are looking for help to get healthy then why not try working with a nutritional therapist?