When I was about sixteen, things started to change for me. It wasn’t just the joys of puberty and the wonderful skin break-outs (sarcasm alert!) but I also developed extra fat around my waist, bottom and thighs. Up until then, I was always super skinny and had enjoyed the advantages of not worrying about my weight. I believe it was around this time that I started to hear repeated messages from my mother about getting fat and how to avoid getting fat. Suddenly, our house was filled with really bland foods and nothing… I mean NOTHING had any fat in it! Cream was considered a cardinal sin and every meal was made without sauces or fats, as my mom was utterly convinced that fats were all bad for us and would ultimately make us fat. I remember a running joke within the family, where every time we ate dessert that contained any fat, my dad would make jokes about how we would land up like my grandmother (she was sadly overweight).
The thing is, when we get told something repeatably, we start to believe it. I got told over and over again that fats were bad. Bacon was bad, butter was bad and cream was the biggest sin of all. I was utterly convinced that these things were bad for me and would make me fat. It took some convincing for me to believe otherwise…
So, in the past week, I have been studying the biochemistry of foods for my degree and within it, we had to create an assignment explaining the different types of fats. The key objective of the assignment was to share our views on whether or not saturated fats were bad for us. We had to research it and find evidence to support our claim, whichever way that viewpoint was. As you all know, I love this kind of stuff and love to research topics on a much deeper level. I seldom believe the basics of information we are told and inevitably find a heap of stuff beneath it all!
In the beginning, I was going to post the entire assignment on how bad saturated fats were and how they cause us to gain weight and clog up our arteries. There were only a few things wrong with this claim! Every bit of information and research I found, which measured populations that ate large quantities of saturated fats didn’t experience these things at all! I was expecting it to show me that populations who ate large quantities of meat and fats would have high heart disease rates but it didn’t! In fact, the information and research revealed the opposite!
A great book with heaps of research on this is in Sally Fallon’s book Nourishing Traditions. Go grab a copy here.
Here is a graph I found which illustrates it really well:
A great example is the French. Having traveled through France and exploring all the wonderful markets and enjoying some genuine French home-cooked meals, I can tell you that their foods are incredibly rich in fats. The fats come in the form of animal fat. Duck fat, goose fat and loads of pâté, which are filled with organ meats, are incredibly rich in fats. I honestly felt so incredibly guilty when we were there, eating all that liver pâté and real home-made butter!
In our assignment we had to demonstrate what fats do within the body and how they help our bodies. Having learned about cells and membranes and all that stuff last year, I already had some idea that our cells desperately need fat to function. What I didn’t realize is that fats were the key ones that allowed those functions to happen.
The biggest one was building a membrane around our cells that ensures we retain moisture and are able to excrete toxins from the cells.
This got me thinking about moisture in our skin…
Have you ever felt like your skin is super dry? Mine often felt dry and no matter how much I slathered on the moisturisers or oils, it would somehow still feel dry. I knew that dryness would ultimately lead to wrinkles but no amount of creams seemed to fix this.
Then I saw a cooking show with Nigella Lawson on TV. Her skin literally glows! I then looked at what she was cooking and to be honest, it was laden with sugar and flour but it also included LARGE QUANTITIES of butter! I do believe she does know this about diet: fats are a good thing!
Here are some of the things I am going to be doing, having learned what I have:
- Cutting back on all grains and carbohydrates. It was only when I studied the biochemistry of these that I realized that ultimately every single carbohydrate, regardless of its source, will ultimately still turn into a glucose molecule in our bodies. This includes potatoes, rice, grains and kumara (my favorite sweet potato in New Zealand). Glucose is great if we need it—like if we are running a marathon and need instant energy but for most of us, we don’t do that much exercise and ironically fat is a much better source of energy for the body. Too much glucose means work for the liver and simply isn’t great for Endometriosis.
- Increasing my fat intake. I will admit I am still fighting with the messages from years and years of being told otherwise, but so far I am quite enjoying foods with real butter and fats. I have started eating more bacon and the other day my husband and I tested having popcorn with real butter. Oh wow! It was truly amazing!
- We no longer cook with olive oil. The jury is still out on this one and some say it is a reasonably stable oil but since butter and coconut fats are more stable, I am going to cook with those. The more stable an oil is, the less likely it is going to go rancid, which means less oxidation and potential free radicals in the body. Butter and coconut oil are both saturated fats and much more stable than olive oil.
- No more guilt! I have always enjoyed foods which were rich in fats. Coconut milk is one of my favorites but I always used it sparingly. I also avoided eating anything else that was considered high in fat in small quantities. But now I am going to go all in! Avocados, bacon and butter… here I come!
- Steering away from omega 6 fats. Through my study on fats, I discovered that typically we have an imbalance with our omega 3 to 6 fats. Most of us will have far more omega 6 fats in our diet. The imbalance between these two can be attributed to more prostaglandin 2 production, which ultimately means: more inflammation, pain and bloating! Read more on Prostaglandins and endo pain here. No thank you! Foods that are high in omega 6 tend to be our nuts, grains and meats that are grain-fed. We want to increase omega 3 fats, which are found in walnut oils, krill oil and chia seeds. Wild salmon is also a great one!
- Finding ways to eat more butter. When you don’t eat toast anymore or cookies, it is quite hard to find uses for butter. So, I am going to be sourcing different ways of incorporating butter into my diet. My first thought is to put a big blob on top of my steamed broccoli!
Needless to say, I am totally LOVING my degree with SPCNM! It is so much fun researching and figuring out how our bodies work and discover the actual molecules that work together to give us life and energy. If you want a copy of my assignment click here.
If you want to know more about how you can use diet to regulate your pain and inflammation, then check out my program. It contains everything I have learned over the last five years on how I finally got control of Endometriosis and effectively manage it. I don’t experience pain or inflammation from Endometriosis anymore and it is my wicked combination of the REACH Technique© that has made it all happen.
So, I know this can be a controversial subject and hopefully it creates a wonderful debate for us to compare ideas. Do you agree with my discoveries? Have you been using fats sparingly in your diet? What are your thoughts on saturated fats? Feel free to share your thoughts in the comments section below.