Dan Davis, Nutritional Therapist, | 18 May 2013
Its a word that when it comes to food, strikes fear into anyone trying to regulate their weight. And its not really our fault. A few decades ago food manufacturers caught on to some misguided information that foods had to be low in fat or fat free to be healthy and beneficial to re-correct increasingly poor health statistics. So processed “healthy” food brands hit our supermarket shelves and that side of the food industry soared in profit margins. Low fat ready meals, fat free yoghurts, fat free salad dressings, all sold to people in hope they are forming a healthy diet. The fat fear hysteria is generally out of control.
The truth is, fat should play a part in our diet. Not all fats are bad, in fact some forms of it are essential for a healthy body. Our outer layer of fat for example keeps our internal organs warm. Fats are an important component in hormone production and function, so especially important in female health. Many of the important vitamins and minerals we need to sustain a healthy body are 'fat soluble' which means, they can only be transported into our digestive system in fat molecules. A decrease in fat consumption could mean a deficiency in absorption of minerals like calcium, magnesium and boron, and vitamins A, D and E. So in turn, a fat deficiency can lead to low bone density and osteoporosis.
Every cell in our body has a membrane encasing it. These membranes are predominantly made of fat. The cells are told what to do by the 'messengers' of the body, hormones. So the membranes need to be healthy and 'fluid' to receive these messages in order to carry out there function properly. Hormones actually attach to the membranes of the cells in order to pass on their instructions. If either the cell or the hormone has a faulty membrane the wrong instructions may be given and a cell deformity occur. Or if a pre-cancerous cell is given the instruction to reproduce, this is where a cancer may form and spread.
Eating fat does not necessarily make you unhealthy, obviously eating it too excess can be detrimental to health. Excess fat will be stored in our adipose layer causing obesity and the liver can be damaged by having to deal with high amounts consumed, but fat is an important calorie source. If you consider the Eskimo races diets are around 60% fat and the incidence of heart disease among them is very low, you can start to see the myths created by food processors and 'experts' may have been highly misleading.
The thing about low fat and fat free foods is, when the fat is removed it is replaced with other ingredients such as starches, sugars, gums and many other additives. Many of these are detrimental to health in many other ways. So in fact a meal you think is beneficial to your health in one way may actually be damaging it in another.
Remember, eating fats isn't the health issue. Being fat is.
Dan Davis is a Nutritional Therapist based in London and Kent in the UK and a member of the SingleMum.com.au Expert Panel. To learn more about Dan, please go to his Biography page here
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