ESSENTIAL ELEMENT: Increase Healthy Fats
Critical Concept: Fats are Good
What if a critical secret to improving your health was to increase your intake of FAT? For years fats have been at the center of nutrition confusion. You’ve been told that all fats are bad, that they increase your chances of heart disease, that they cause cancer and promote weight gain and obesity. This is simply not true. In fact, eating the right fats has been proven to reduce the inflammation associated with artery disease, normalize blood lipids and cholesterol, reduce multiple forms of cancer, and actually combat obesity.
Although it may seem terribly counterintuitive, the intake of the right fats can actually be one of the best health strategies you could ever adopt.
Fats are commonly categorized as either “good fats” or “bad fats.” They could be more accurately designated as either “great fats” or “terrible fats”. Some saturated fats, all trans-fats and all hydrogenated oils are considered “terrible fats” (coconut oil is an exception when it comes to saturated fats). These fats have been shown to increase blood serum cholesterol, alter blood lipid profiles, and promote the inflammation associated with heart disease, as well as many types of cancers.
“Great fats” like polyunsaturated and monounsaturated fats are essential nutrients that reverse the damage created by these “terrible fats,” as well as performing a critical role in countless physiological functions. Omega-3 Fatty Acids are widely considered to be one of the most vital nutrients in regards to healthy cell function. They are instrumental in almost every organ and tissue, including the heart, skin, eyes and brain.
EPA and DHA Omega-3 Fatty Acids are considered essential fatty acids. Nutrients are considered essential if a) they are required by the body for health, and b) the body cannot make them, and therefore they must be consumed in the diet.
Deficiencies in Omega-3’s have been linked to breast, colon and prostate cancers, heart disease, high blood pressure, high cholesterol and strokes, diabetes, arthritis, digestive disorders, vision problems, dementia, hormonal and reproductive problems as well as osteoporosis, Alzheimer’s and depression.
DHA and EPA deficiencies have been shown to be a causal factor in development and behavioral issues with children – even ADD and ADHD. DHA is one of the most critical elements in human breast milk.
Eating mid-sized, cold water, wild fish is a best practice that will provide a great source of Omega 3’s. Avoid farm-raised fish - they have inferior fatty acid profiles and impact the environment negatively. Also, eat grass-fed beef, wild game and range-fed chickens and eggs. These are the foods that your ancestors ate. In fact, they considered the brain and organ meats a priority – due to their high essential fat content, no doubt. Nuts, seeds and avocados are also excellent sources of healthy fats. Unfortunately, Omega-3 FA deficiency is extremely common. Our diets are terribly low in this vital nutrient. To make matters worse, we over-consume Omega-6 Fatty Acids, upsetting the delicate balance in the very important Omega-6 FA: Omega-3 FA ratio. This imbalance creates silent inflammation in the body which leads to a litany of chronic disease issues.
Our over-consumption of vegetable oils, combined with our consumption of processed grains and cereal grains, both of which are high in Omega 6 Fatty Acids contributes to this imbalance. A diet high in grains (breads, pastas, baked goods and cereals) is considered highly pro-inflammatory. In other words, grains promote inflammation in your body and should be reduced or avoided. Unfortunately, the food pyramid has promoted a diet-style that has lead to the greatest heart disease, diabetes and obesity epidemic that the world has ever seen.
It is difficult to consume sufficient amounts of Omega 3’s to re-balance and maintain a healthy fatty acid ratio. Additionally, the oceans have been polluted so dramatically that many fish are too toxic to safely consume. A vital behavior to ensure fatty acid sufficiency is to supplement with a high quality fish oil source. The oil should be pharmaceutical grade, pure and in natural EPA/DHA forms and ratios.
If the thought of consuming fish oil every day causes you to wrinkle your nose, just think of the sweeping health benefits you’ll receive. If that doesn’t work, you can always go back to eating the brains, organ meats and bone marrow that your ancestors enjoyed.