I had a patient say to me years back, “never trust a skinny cook”. I guess that is partly why she is no longer my patient. Changing beliefs can be hard. We often construct our story around beliefs and hang on tight. We make justifications to suit our actions. Our words are powerful and our story guides our future choices.
Our story also guides our nutritional choices. People will defend the macronutrient, fat, to the bitter end. Don’t we need good fat? What about coconut oil? You need a little olive oil. The recipe won’t work without a little fat. You have to have that fat feel. I need the fried fat crunch. My skin is dry, I think I need more oil in my diet. Fat makes the dough easier to work with. It makes a good crust. Our brains need fat for the cell walls. Fat decreases seizures. Fat keeps you full. The Inuit eat fat and look how fast they run. Gotcha. They are not known for being fast runners. Don’t worry about a little middle age spread. I have lots of good cholesterol. I think you get the point. We are always trying to find a reason to keep fat around. Why? Is it like the relative that won’t go away so we learn to love it? We wear it and eat it so we must need it?
Fat is storage. It contains 9 calories per gram versus 4 calories per gram in carbohydrates and protein. The fact is that it is rarely consumed alone. It is connected to protein in animal products and often used in processed carbohydrates. It is could keep you alive in times of famine. But at the present moment, we live in a time of dietary excess, so we store more than we burn in many instances. That storage becomes a chemical waste ground in our bodies harboring metabolic waste and toxins. It is active making growth factors and inflammatory compounds. We also have the ability to turn fat into cholesterol as demonstrated by Dr. Hegsted in 1960.
Hegsted equation:.Change in cholesterol(mg/dl)= 2.16(change Sat Fat)-1.65(change polyunsaturated fats) 6.77(cholesterol) -0.53
So we all agree that heart disease is associated with increased cholesterol. LDL cholesterol lowering has been shown to decrease cardiovascular disease by any means that results in LDL decreasing. When we eliminate excessive dietary fat and the fat we store, diabetes is reversed. Only by eating animals do we get a dietary source of cholesterol. When we eat animals we ingest cholesterol, saturated fat, and protein together. Greater than 10% of the daily calories coming from protein is associated with a risk of cardiovascular disease and cancer as documented in The China Study by T. Colin Campbell. Saturated fat comes in plant forms such as in nuts, seeds, and processed oils to name a few. There are not a lot of redeeming qualities in saturated fat, and it does not travel alone. Yet we continuously look for redeeming qualities to justify consuming more.
Fat is really easy to find. It is in all processed foods. There is no shortage. There are no fat deficient people. Quite the contrary, we all have excess. So let’s quit protecting it as though it was an endangered species. Go for a run and burn some of it off. Pay it forward and help someone else to better health by setting a good example when making food choices. Perhaps you can actually commit to saying I do not need to worry about eating enough fat. In fact, I am focusing on getting over 50 grams of fiber in my diet each day because I know that it will serve me well. By eliminating animal products from my diet, I am eliminating cholesterol and a lot of saturated fats thereby making me healthier. Saturated fat is a cheap commodity with little benefit, and is not in my plan for optimal health and wellness. Stay positive and don’t be afraid to share your new story.