Fats and Fiction

The general diet recommendation at Nutritionhelp is to get sugar, in all its varying forms, out of the diet. In many cases, this is due to the effect sugars have on the balance of micro-organisms in the digestive tract, in particular, encouraging intestinal yeasts such as Candida albicans. However, avoiding sugar is only one aspect of the diet. It is also important to include in the diet as many nutrient-rich foods as possible. Fill your plate with an array of vegetables, supplying vitamins, minerals and phytonutrients – an easy way to increase your body’s supply of health protecting nutrients. Certain fats are also important in the diet, and more and more research is demonstrating that healthy fats are heart-protecting, rather than damaging, and sugars in the diet have a greater negative influence on cardiovascular health than previously thought. Dr Mark Hyman makes some helpful points in this article

Sugar, not fat, makes you fat. The average American eats 152 pounds of sugar and 146 pounds of flour that converts to sugar every year. That’s nearly a pound of sugar and flour combined every day! More sugar means your cells become numb to insulin’s “call.” Your body pumps out more and more insulin to pull your blood sugar levels back down. You can’t burn all the sugar you eat. Inevitably, your body stores it as fat, creating insulin resistance and overall metabolic havoc among other mayhem

Dietary fat is more complex than sugar. There are some 257 names for sugar, but despite very minor variations, they all create the same damage. In other words, sugar is sugar is sugar; it all wreaks havoc on your health. Fat is more complex. We have saturated, monounsaturated, polyunsaturated, and even trans fats, not to mention subcategories within each group. Some fats are good; others neutral; and yes, a few are bad.

Low-fat diets tend to be heart-unhealthy, high-sugar diets. When people eat less fat, they tend to eat more starch or sugar instead, and this actually increases their levels of the small, dense cholesterol that causes heart attacks. In fact, studies show 75 percent of people who end up in the emergency room with a heart attack have normal overall cholesterol levels. But what they do have is pre-diabetes or type 2 diabetes.

Saturated fat is not your enemy. A review of all the research on saturated fat published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition found no correlation between saturated fat and heart disease. As with all fats, quality becomes key here. The fats in a fast-food bacon feedlot cheeseburger will have an entirely different effect than saturated fat in coconut oil. Let’s stop classifying it all as the same.

Some fats are unhealthy. They include trans fat and inflammatory vegetable oils. Unfortunately, these fats have increased in our diet as they make us fatter and contribute to inflammation, which plays a role in nearly every chronic disease on the planet.

Everyone benefits from more omega 3s. About 99 percent of Americans are deficient in these critical fats. Ideal ways to get them include eating wild or sustainably raised cold-water fish (at least two servings weekly), buying omega-3 rich eggs (organic)

Eating fat can make you lean. Healthy cell walls made from high-quality fats are better able to metabolize insulin, which keeps blood sugar better regulated. Without proper blood sugar control, the body socks away fat for a rainy day. The right fats also increase fat burning, cut your hunger, and reduce fat storage. Eating the right fats makes you lose weight, while eating excess sugar and the WRONG types of fat make you fat.

Good fats can heal. I have many diabetic patients whose health improves when I get them on diet that’s higher in fat.

Your brain is about 60 percent fat. Of that percentage, the biggest portion comes from the omega-3 fat called docosahexaenoic acid (DHA). Your brain needs DHA to spark communication between cells. Easy access to high-quality fat boosts cognition, happiness, learning, and memory. In contrast, studies link a deficiency of omega-3 fatty acids to depression, anxiety, bipolar disorder, and schizophrenia.

Your body gives you signs whether or not you are getting enough quality fat. The higher-quality the fat, the better your body will function. That’s because the body uses the fat you eat to build cell walls. You have more than 10 trillion cells in your body, and every single one of them needs high-quality fat. How do you know if your cells are getting the fats they need? Your body sends signals when it’s not getting enough good fats. Warning signs include:
Dry, itchy, scaling, or flaking skin
Soft, cracked, or brittle nails
Hard earwax
Tiny bumps on the backs of your arms or torso
Achy, stiff joints

Dr Hyman's favourite fats include:

Nuts—walnuts, almonds, pecans, macadamia nuts, but not peanuts (one study showed a handful of nuts a day reduced death from all causes by 20 percent) NB Emma’s note, if you are on a yeast-free programme, nuts should only be eaten freshly cracked from the shell, to reduce likelihood of unseen mould.

Seeds—pumpkin, sesame, chia, hemp. Store in the fridge to keep as fresh as possible

Fatty fish, including sardines, mackerel, herring, and wild salmon that are rich in omega-3 fats

Extra virgin olive oil

Grass-fed or sustainably raised animal products Organic whenever possible

Extra virgin coconut butter, which is a great plant-based source of saturated fat that has many benefits. It fuels your mitochondria, is anti-inflammatory, and doesn’t cause problems with your cholesterol. In fact, it may help resolve them. NB Emma’s note: If you have problems with intestinal yeast however, be careful with coconut oil for two reasons – firstly it contains 3 different fatty acids (Caprylic Acid, Capric Acid, Lauric Acid) each of which have been found to be effective against the Candida yeast. This means that if you regularly include coconut oil in your diet you may experience an increase in toxins, leading to an increase in symptoms, as yeast is killed off. Secondly, coconut oil encourages a state of ketosis, a normal metabolic process in which the body’s cells burn molecules called ketones to make energy, instead of relying on sugar or carbohydrate. While this may be hepful for weight loss it has been found that a state of ketosis can encourage intestinal yeast just as well as glucose! Therefore, coconut oil should be used sparingly by those on a yeast free diet.


Read other articles in Erica's Corner