Why Eating Fat Doesn’t Make You Fat

Healthy fats avocado fish olive oil seeds

It seems intuitive—if you eat a lot of fat, you’ll get fat. That’s what we’ve been told, right? Wrong. The truth is, fat is not making us fat. Sugar is what’s making us fat. This includes processed, refined grains and white flour products, which are metabolically just as harmful as consuming white sugar by the spoonful (more on the dangers of sugar here).

Fats, on the other hand, are essential to human health, and if you’re looking to feel better and lose weight—yes, even lose weight—then healthy fats should become a staple in your diet.

The role that fat plays in health:

  • Support brain health
  • Increase metabolism
  • Control blood sugar and curb hunger
  • Protect against cancer and diabetes
  • Improve skin, nails, and hair

Some key healthy fats to emphasize in your diet:

  • Avocados
  • Coconut and coconut products (coconut oil, coconut butter, etc.)
  • Extra virgin olive oil
  • Dry roasted, unsalted or sprouted nuts (Brazil nuts, almonds, walnuts, macadamia nuts, cashews)
  • Seeds (chia, flax, pumpkin, sesame, hemp)
  • Pastured, organic eggs
  • Grass-fed, organic beef
  • Fatty fish (wild caught salmon, mackerel, sardines)
  • Fish oil supplements have been shown to improve mood-related disorders such as anxiety and depression, as well as prevent brain-degenerative diseases like Alzheimer’s and dementia. In fact, one study noted how “those who consumed fish were 60% less likely to develop Alzheimer’s than those who rarely or never ate fish” (see my white paper on fish oil).

It’s important to remember that not all fats are created equal. Some fats are harmful, particularly trans fats and inflammatory vegetable oils (think hydrogenated oils found in many packaged foods). Opt for getting fats from whole foods (foods with only one ingredient) to be sure you’re getting the highest quality fuel for your body—and of course, choose organic and local whenever possible to minimize pesticide exposure and avoid GMOs.

Citations:

Hyman, Mark. “Separating Fat from Fiction: 10 Fat Facts You Need to Know.” Dr. Hyman. Hyman Digital, n.d. Web. 3 Aug. 2016.

by Claire Stark

Claire is an undergraduate student pursuing a Bachelor of Arts in psychology with a minor in medical anthropology at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. She is a certified yoga instructor at the 200-hour level registered with Yoga Alliance. Working towards a career in acupuncture and holistic health, Claire is passionate about a mind-body-spirit approach to healing in order to help people achieve long-lasting, sustainable wellness in all facets of life.

Guest authors’ work is reviewed and edited by Ben Townsend.

Good News / Bad News

sugar can decrease your immune system function

The good news is that I know a guaranteed way to boost your immune system for free.  The bad news is that it requires you to stop eating some of your favorite foods.  In 1973 the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition published a study that showed how consumption of sugar correlated directly with a diminished function of the immune system, or more accurately, neutrophilic phagocytosis.  Neutrophils are major players in our immune system and sugar basically causes them to not function properly, so, essentially, sugar makes your immune system lazy.  High fructose corn syrup was introduced in the 70s, but was not mentioned in the study; however, the study does state that fructose had the most significant impact, albeit by a very close margin.

What this means is that anyone who is prone to catching seasonal illness or who is being exposed to contagious pathogens should not eat sugar.

For the sake of staying well, avoid sugar if:

A) You are prone to seasonal colds

B) You are going to be or have been exposed to contagions pathogens, i.e. taking a flight, working or living with children, etc.

There are certainly other reasons why most people should avoid sugar but this is one thing too many people are unaware of.   Orange juice is loaded with sugar.  Most cough drops are almost entirely sugar.  There are benefits to both when you have a cold, but the sugar may negate them, so it is typically better to take a vitamin C supplement and taking prescribed herbs if you do get sick.  Eat right, exercise, and get enough sleep.  Your body should take care of the rest.

reference

Am J Clin Nutr November 1973 vol. 26 no. 11 1180-1184
http://ajcn.nutrition.org/content/26/11/1180.full.pdf+html

General Diet Guidelines For Headache Sufferers

headache pain

The following guidelines are based on classical Chinese literature, and include descriptions of specific headaches.  Regardless of whether or not your headaches match the descriptions, if you are experiencing any headaches after behaving in any of the ways listed below, you should suspect the behavior to be responsible.

  • Dull Headaches: Inadequate meals or nourishment are a common cause for dull headaches, if the diet is consistently lacking nourishment, more severe headaches can develop
  • Frontal Headaches, Sharp Pain: Overeating is a common cause for headaches characterized by sharp pain, especially those in the front of the head
  • Frontal Headaches, Sharp Pain: Eating too quickly or while engaged in serious conversation can lead to sharp headaches in the front of the head
  • Frontal Headaches, Dull Pain: Eating irregularly from day to day or eating too late at night can lead to dull headaches in the front of the head
  • Frontal or Temporal Headaches, Sharp Pain: Excessive consumption of hot-natured foods (curry, peppers, etc.), red meats, or alcohol are also common causes for sharp headaches in the sides and/or front of the head
  • Headache of entire head or Occipital region, Dull Pain: Excessive salt in the diet (canned soups, smoked or cured meats, etc.) will often cause dull headaches in the whole head or back of head
  • Temporal Headaches or Migraines: Excessive consumption of sour foods (yogurt, grapefruit, pickles, vinegar, red currants, etc.) can lead to temporal headaches or migraines
  • Chemicals in foods (MSG, dyes, etc.) can cause headaches for many reasons that are not discussed in classical Chinese literature, but should always be considered when headaches recur after eating certain foods.  In general, food coloring should be omitted from the diet when possible.
  • Coffee and chocolate are examples of foods that were not traditionally available in China and were not explained in Classical literature, but both can be a cause of headaches.  It is always advisable that headache sufferers eliminate both to determine if they may be causing the headaches.