One of the most significant and profound changes that you can make in terms of improving your over all health and feeling of well being, is to make sure that your diet is rich in healthful saturated fats. Our brains are made up mostly of fats, and we need to eat fat in order to keep our brains healthy. When we eat sufficient amounts of healthful fats, our mood is greatly improved and stabilized. Fat is not only delicious and promotes satiety, but when your diet contains sufficient amounts of fat, your insulin levels remain steady, and you will not be subject to the unpleasant roller coaster ride of peaks and troughs of blood sugar that is correlated with fatigue, anxiety, depression and irritability. Appetite is curbed by ingestion of fat, and thus you are able to go for much longer periods between feeling like you need to eat. Good fats make your skin soft and your hair shiny.
Healthful fats are those fats which were eaten by traditional cultures and kept them free of the degenerative diseases that are plaguing modern society. Ironically a major factor in the current epidemic of obesity, diabetes, auto-immune conditions, cancer, osteoporosis and heart disease has been the replacement of these healthy fats in the Standard American Diet (SAD) with highly processed vegetable oils. This development began in the 1960’s with the low fat ideology which gained widespread acceptance in the 1980’s, when physicians and the media began to tout a low fat diet as necessary for heart health, and to vilify cholesterol.
These dangerous misconceptions persist today and are reflected in the 2010 USDA guidelines for what constitutes a healthful diet. These alarming guidelines unfortunately determine what children are fed in government funded school lunch programs, what conventionally trained nutritionists recommend, and what patient are fed in hospitals. Any program that wishes to receive government funding must comply with them. There are specific guidelines severely restricting saturated fat, but no limit placed on the amount of sugar and refined carbohydrates in the diet. These recommendations have nothing to do with health, but are based upon the lobbying efforts of powerful special interest groups. The tragic consequences of our current public health crisis is only too evident.
The myth about the dangers of dietary cholesterol has resulted in the wide spread automatic prescription of dangerous statin drugs meant to lower cholesterol, as though it were the cause of disease. These drugs often have serious side effects, including damage to the liver, muscles and nervous system, with a particularly deleterious effect upon memory. Informing yourself about the issue of cholesterol can relieve your fear about enjoying ample healthful fats in your diet, and give you the confidence to discuss the advisability of continuing on statin drugs with your physician. Here is a link to an interview with doctoral candidate in nutrition, Chris Masterjohn, and expert in the field of cholesterol, that provides an excellent overview of the science of cholesterol metabolism in our bodies and its link to heart disease. Heart Disease and Dietary Cholesterol
The Weston A Price Foundation published guidelines titled “Know Your Fats”, which I will include here:
Confused About Fats? The following nutrient-rich traditional fats have nourished healthy population groups for thousands of years:
- Tallow and suet from beef and lamb
- Lard from pigs
- Chicken, goose and duck fat
- Coconut, palm and palm kernel oils
- Extra virgin olive oil
- Expeller-expressed sesame and peanut oils
- Expeller-expressed flax oil (in small amounts)
For Fat-Soluble Vitamins
- Fish liver oils such as cod liver oil (preferable to fish oils, which do not provide fat-soluble vitamins, can cause an overdose of unsaturated fatty acids and usually come from farmed fish.)
The following newfangled fats can cause cancer, heart disease, immune system dysfunction, sterility, learning disabilities, growth problems and osteoporosis:
- All hydrogenated and partially hydrogenated oils
- Industrially processed liquid oils such as soy, corn, safflower, cottonseed and canola
- Fats and oils (especially vegetable oils) heated to very high temperatures in processing and frying.
Here are two relevant videos. One is a two part video produced by the Weston A Price Foundation, featuring my hero Sally Fallon Morell, president of the Weston A. Price Foundation, presenting a critique of the 2010 USDA guidelines, with its misguided and disasterous recommendations for a diet low in saturated fats and no limit placed on sugar and refined carbohydrates in the diet. The second is a review of the topic of healthful fats by Sarah Pope called Traditional Fats and Sacred Foods.