Love Your Fat!

I know the title makes a lot of people cringe. Love your fat? Absolutely! Understand fat, embrace fat, accept fat, and love it. You need it. Fat, fat, fat. 

Fat has received a bum rap the past couple of decades, and most of us growing up in dieting generations have learned that fat is the enemy. On the one hand, we want it. Why? Well, in food preparation it is fat that delights our senses of taste and smell. On the other hand, we don’t want it. Why? The only reason is because we’ve been taught to not want it. Ah, the dilemma of being swayed hither and dither.

Along with all of the fad-diets and calorie counting, came the non-fat food selections in our grocery stores. Learned was the lesson that in our modern society, we do not exert the same type of physical manual labor as did the generations before us. This means that if we continue to eat the same amount without it being utilized, we store it. Fact. Yes, this is true. Yet, something alarming and peculiar began to evolve. In the low-fat diet eras of the the 1980’s and 90’s, many people befriended carbohydrates and cut out almost all fat. The result was, “people with brittle, aged-looking skin, hair, and nails, more infections, moodiness, and weight gain!” (Light, 2006, p. 40) . New problems began to arise with the manufacturing of refined food products. One of them being trans fats. This is one example that most have heard about by now.

Now, I don’t know about you, but if I compare myself to my grandparents, I’d have to admit that my biochemical foundation is no different from theirs. My point being that our physiology has not evolved as quickly as our technology has. Our biochemistry functions just the same, and we forget that simple fact. Our bodies do not exclaim, “Hey, there are new processed foods coming out on the shelves, so let’s evolve new enzymes to break them all down and new methods to utilize these new ingredients!”. No. It's a scenario more like our biochemical processes scratching their heads wondering what in the heck they are going to do with what they’re given to work with in order to help us survive in good health. Really try to conjure up the comical image of your cells and biochemistry as little workers, your employees if you will. They are over-worked, under-paid, and sitting around the lunch table reminiscing about the good ‘ole days when natural whole foods were “in”, and they knew what was expected of them in terms of performance.

When symptoms start to show up, that means that your employees have gone on strike, folks. There will be little productivity or no working until their demands are met.

No one blogpost can cover all aspects of fat, so I’m sure that more will come in the future. My intention with this is to let you all know that it is OK to love your fat. Try not to think only about the calorie counting. Be more concerned with providing your body with what it needs to function optimally, and work for you. Placing your focus on this intention and following up with small baby-step implemented changes is a fantastic start. With a little time and effort this approach will lead to stabilizing effects, one of them being your metabolism, and therefore your weight. Low on energy? Food for thought.

So, what do our bodies need?

Our bodies need both saturated and unsaturated fat, and all chain-lengths for those of you that know your fat-chemistry. Something that is discussed too little, is the subject of fat quality. This is because we often focus on amount, and calorie counting. Do we still need to remain cautious and conscious of our intake? Of course we do. The point of “liking your fat” is not to encourage people to stop thinking about amounts.

In 2002, The National Academy of Science proposed a recommended 20-30% dietary intake of fat. This is still a little on the high end of intake, yet it is acceptable if people also concentrate on fat quality, and individual needs (Haas, 2006, p.75). The majority of Americans eat a higher percentage than the recommendation. So do the majority in other Western cultures. There is still room for improvement, and along with reduction we need to rethink the issue of quality. We need to provide our bodies with what they need, and those needs are the fundamentals of healthy eating and living. We, therefore, need to address the issue of healthy quality fats.

Fats are components of your cell membranes, and they are essential in cellular communication. They protect the brain and nervous system, and they transport nutrients, such as fat-soluble vitamins. Fat is a component of your internal tissues that protect your vital organs. This protects you not only from trauma, but also from temperature change. Fat is also your best source of energy, as it packs double the energy than protein and carbohydrates. Yet, I find that it doesn’t always help to remind people of this high energy, and that is because people tend to tie that thought to stored fat and weight gain.

The following are three extremely simplified, yet necessary tips for those just starting out in their understanding of a complex subject. Everyone has to start somewhere, right? You have to simplify, or else it becomes so overwhelming that you won’t even want to attempt to begin.

The first tip is to buy unsalted butter. Go for the gusto, and buy organic as you will actually understand the words written on the ingredient label. Oh, I can almost hear the gasps out there. Head for your refrigerator, and pull out your margarine. You will most likely find some sort of hydrogenated fat in the ingredients. They are the result of the manufacturing process. They are unstable. So, don’t underestimate the value of your old friend butter as it is a better choice compared to your average margarine.

Butter is a stable monosaturated fat, and these fats are essential as they provide structure to your cell-membranes. They stabilize them, and this type of fat is resilient to damage. You build the structure of your home with the right materials, don’t you? You wouldn’t want your walls falling in on you. In addition, butter contains butyric acid, which is a short fatty acid. Butyric has the properties associated with reduced cancer risk and tumor advancement reduction. As with all fat, you still need to watch the amounts you consume, yet this is a healthy choice.

The second tip is something that most people have already understood and implemented. In most homes you now find olive oil. Just make sure that it is extra virgin cold-pressed olive oil. Olive oil is the choice for cooking. It is a monounsaturated fat, and not as prone to damage from light, heat, and oxygen. However, all unsaturated fats are more susceptible than saturated fatty acids. Olive oil is a monounsaturated fat, which allow your cell membranes to remain flexible and in communication with their surrounding environment. Yes, our cells do dynamically communicate.

The third tip is also quite well known, and this tip is about polyunsaturated omega-3’s. Omega-3 and omega-6 are two essential fats that we must consume in food. However, the average diet provides more than enough omega-6 fatty-acids, found in such items as vegetable oil, so your intake focus should be on the consumption of the omega-3’s. People have generally become increasingly informed about these fatty acids; however, there are still a couple of facts of which people aren't aware that I can cover in a future blogpost. One such issue being consumption ratios. Your nerves, hormones, brain function, blood vessels, tissues, and growth are dependent on them. Omega-3's are essential for the functionality of your brain, and have documented effects on depression and memory, just to name a couple of examples.

Not everyone is fond of what we call fatty-fish, or would want to consume it a couple of times a week. If for some reason you are concerned about getting enough of essential omega-3 fatty acids, purchase a bottle of flax-seed oil, and follow the instructions on the label regarding dosage. Do be informed, however, that flaxseed constituents are not as easily utilized in the brain, and do not pass the blood-brain barrier as Omega-3's from fish. The reason is chemistry. Nevertheless, increase these nutrients, and don’t be surprised if your moods balance, and your hair starts shining!

These three tips are not difficult. They are pretty easy to implement, and for many people this simple beginning is much better than what is currently hiding in their cupboards. Make your daily quantity an issue of quality. What should you do about all of the other refined products in your kitchen concealing unhealthy fat? Start replacing them one by one with natural whole foods that give you better control over fat amount, and the type of quality that you are consuming. Yes, whole foods. Just like the good ‘ole days!

Stay safe, and warm wishes,

Tamera Daun

Come visit me at,
Pentad. Simplifying Life and Love

Haas, E.M. (2006). Staying healthy with nutrition. The complete guide to diet and nutritional medicine. Berkeley, Ca: Celestial Arts.
Light, Luise (2006). What to eat. New York, NY: McGraw-Hill.

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