Last week I covered the dangers of fad diets. Low carb and low cal diets were the focus. Many diet plans also restrict or completely remove fats in your diet. This also has dangerous health risks.
Dietary fats are essential to give your body energy and to support cell growth. They also help protect your organs and help keep your body warm. Fats help your body absorb some nutrients and produce important hormones.
There are four types of fats, each have different chemical structures and physical properties. The bad fats, saturated and trans fats, tend to be more solid at room temperature (like a stick of butter), while monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats tend to be more liquid (like liquid vegetable oil).
Fats can also have different effects on the cholesterol levels in your body. The bad fats, saturated fats and trans fats raise bad cholesterol (LDL) levels in your blood. Monounsaturated fats and polyunsaturated fats can lower bad cholesterol levels and are beneficial when consumed as part of a healthy diet.
Eating foods with fat is definitely part of a healthy diet. It’s important to choose foods that provide good fats (monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats) and balance the amount of calories you eat from all foods with the amount of calories you burn.
What is fat for?
- A source of energy – Our body uses the fat we eat, and fats we make from other nutrients in our bodies, to provide the energy for most of our life-functions
- Energy store – The extra calories that we consume, but do not need to use immediately, are stored for future use in special fat cells (adipose tissue)
- Essential fatty acids – Dietary fats that are essential for growth development and cell functions, but cannot be made by our body’s processes
- Proper functioning of nerves and brain- fats are part of myelin- a fatty material which wraps around our nerve cells so that they can send electrical messages. Our brains contain large amounts of essential fats
- Maintaining healthy skin and other tissues. All our body cells need to contain some fats as essential parts of cell membranes, controlling what goes in and out of our cells
- Transporting fat-soluble vitamins A, D, E and Kthrough the bloodstream to where they are needed
- Forming steroid hormones needed to regulate many bodily processes
When you eat too little fat in your diet, you will feel more hungry more often. This is because fat actually has more calories than carbs. You’re blood sugar will also be more sporadic. When you don’t eat enough fat, your body stores the fat and tells you your hungry. The energy will be coming from carbs rather than the fats, and blood sugar levels spike and drop sporadically. This would be dangerous for diabetics, and could also potentially cause Type 2 Diabetes in an otherwise healthy individual.
Low-fat diets also put you at higher risk of cardiovascular disease. The good fats, monounsaturated fats to be precise, are actually beneficial to heart health. These good fats actually raise your good cholesterol and decrease bad cholesterol levels. Despite popular belief, it is added sugars, particularly fructose, that increases your risks of heart disease; not fats.
When on a low-fat diet, chances are your eating more carbs. Doing so is increasing your chances of developing illnesses. Other than Diabetes and cardiovascular disease, you could also develop cancers and arthritis. This is because good fats contain antioxidants and anti-inflammatory properties. Without fat in your diet, you will become more inflamed and won’t have the antioxidants provided by the fats. Likewise, you won’t be able to absorb fat soluble vitamins and nutrients; leaving your body nutritionally-deficient. This nutrition-deficiency will lead to development of chronic illnesses and possibly cancers.
Fat soluble vitamins, such as Vitamin E and D, play important roles in the maintenance of your immune system. Without the ability to absorb these vitamins, your immune system will take a hit. Not only will this affect your ability to fend off colds, it will create other, more serious issues. This is part of how more serious chronic illnesses develop. Without a proper functioning immune system, your body is left unprotected and at risk.
Aside from physical illnesses, you could also develop mental illnesses. Fat is a structural component if the brain, and the layer around each nerve that carries messages. Without enough fat, you can feel as though your brain is in a fog. The majority of the chemical serotonin (the “happy” chemical), about 95%, is actually produced and stored in the gut. Inflammation can cause damage to the gut, leaving you with feelings of depression and anxiety. You may also feel stressed.
To stay healthy and reduce risk of illnesses, you need healthy fats (mono and polyunsaturated fats) in your diet. To do otherwise is extremely unhealthy and dangerous for your body. Rather than cut fats from your diet, switch to non-GMO and organic foods, and remove fast food from your diet.