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Nutrition: Reevaluating What We Think We Know
When it Comes to Fatty Foods

New research suggests that a majority of what we’ve been told regarding living healthy for the past 40 years may be wrong. Research compiled over the past decade shows that although many people are making conscious efforts to eat fewer fatty foods, obesity trends continue to increase as well as diagnoses of diet-related heart disease. We’re discovering there may be serious consequences for starving our bodies of the necessary nutrition fats give us; however, new studies inform us how to remedy our actions. The research isn’t arguing that everything we’ve ever learned about nutrition is wrong … just most of it.

Get Fit off Fat

Surprisingly, our bodies require large amounts of fat. While polyunsaturated and trans fats are unhealthy and should be avoided, natural saturated fat reaps positive benefits for our bodies. In fact, nearly every cell in our body requires fat to function properly, and even our brains are composed of over 75% fat. The Weston A. Price Foundation--a nonprofit organization committed to nutrition-based research--reports that by starving our bodies of the essential fats it needs, we may suffer from the following effects:
  • Vitamin A and D deficiencies, (both vitamins are vital for proper growth and mineral assimilation)
  • Increased risk of infection due to decreased immune function
  • Decreased digestion and metabolism of calcium
  • Decreased liver function, which protects the body from alcohol, drugs, pesticides and other poisons
  • High cholesterol levels
  • Greater Risk of Heart Disease

When saturated fat is removed from food, it takes most of the flavor we love with it. In order to keep that flavor, pesky sugar and carbohydrates are added making most fat-free foods worse for us than foods containing natural saturated fat. Consuming excessive carbohydrates and sugar causes the pancreas to produce insulin. Over time, heavy demands made on the insulin-making cells wears them out and insulin production can eventually stop.

Good Fats vs. Bad Fats
Although we know natural saturated fats are beneficial to our bodies, it’s still vital to dig a little deeper and understand the difference between good fats and bad fats. The fats that our body needs are classified as anti-inflammatory fats, whereas the ones that cause our bodies harm are classified as pro-inflammatory fats.

Pro-inflammatory fats include:
  • Hydrogenated oils, found in vegetable oil
  • Omega-6 fatty acids, found in many seeds and grains and the oils extracted from them

These fats cause inflammation and disease in our bodies, and many health professionals now encourage us to avoid them. In a recent statement, the World Health Organization stated that “a significant reduction or virtual elimination” of hydrogenated oils is called for. A significant reduction will cause us to relook at our current diets, as omega-6 fatty acids are abundant in modern diets. Most of our snack foods, sweets and fast foods are loaded with omega-6 fatty acids. It’s estimated that around 1/5th of the calories in the typical American diet come from foods that are rich in omega-6 fatty acids.

Anti-inflammatory fats include:
  • Natural saturated fats, found in grass-fed meats and whole fat dairy products
  • Omega-3 fatty acids, such as found in many fish

Anti-inflammatory fats have been proven to reduce inflammation and disease caused by their pro-inflammatory counterparts, as well as facilitate healthy bodily functions. Knowing the difference between good and bad fats can help us tremendously in constructing a truly healthy diet for ourselves and our families. 

The Truth Behind the USDA “Food Pyramid”

Remember those food pyramids that were plastered to the inside of your elementary school cafeteria walls? Well, its makeup has largely been unchanged to this day and new research shows that the food pyramid is a bit misleading. The food pyramid is based on a low-fat, high carbohydrate/grain intake, which results in too few animal fats and proteins and too many polyunsaturated fats and carbohydrates, which are detrimental to the body. The side effects of following this diet are indeed apparent in youth and adults, but they are proving to be more harmful to developing youth because their bodies do not receive the necessary nutrients for healthy growth. This could be one contributing factor to the obesity problem we are seeing in our youth today.

So, how do we fix our flawed food pyramid? The Weston A. Price Foundation recommends that we reduce processed foods to a minimal amount and focus on wholesome, nutrient-rich foods. By doing so we increase the necessary saturated fat intake that our bodies require, while eliminating unnecessary carbohydrates, sugars and synthetic ingredients found in processed foods.

The next time that you’re shopping for groceries and planning you and your family’s upcoming meals, choose natural, wholesome and unprocessed foods with a substantial saturated fat content that lacks synthetic carbohydrates and sugars. It’s never too late to begin eating healthy. Below is a short list of considerations to help you create a healthy and optimal shopping list:
  • Organic butter instead of margarine
  • Avocados, lots of avocados
  • Grass-fed meats
  • Raw nuts
  • Raw dairy (or whole fat organic dairy)
  • Wild fish (farmed fish are fed mostly GMO soy and corn) Nothing processed; if it wasn’t food 100 years ago, avoid it

For more on this topic, please visit the following webpages that feature articles that further elaborate on the discussion of good fats vs. bad fats:

Q: What can I use as a healthy replacement to vegetable oil/canola oil when cooking?

A: Coconut Oil is a healthy alternative to use when cooking with oil. Olive oil is great COLD, but keep in mind that olive oil loses most of its health benefits after it has been cooked. Using olive oil for salad dressings, raw vegetable marinades and other uses that don’t involve heating the oil are perfectly acceptable and healthy for the body.

Q: Why would the USDA endorse a food pyramid that isn’t healthy for so long?

A: There’s a lot of speculation as to why the USDA would encourage us to follow a food pyramid that pushes an unhealthy diet. There’s information all over the web about how companies like McDonalds and the Campbell Soup Company donate millions of dollars annually to the USDA or how the most recommended food groups on the food pyramid are historically proven to create the most revenue for the US government. Whether or not this affects the USDA’s decision in how to prioritize the food pyramid is up for debate. All I know is that the food pyramid as we’ve come to know it is misleading and should not be followed verbatim, as there are some major flaws that can lead to unhealthy diets.
Copyright © 2014 Path to Wellness acupuncture, All rights reserved.

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