Conventional understanding about fats is based upon a mistake. A giant misconception. An error that has greatly benefited the vegetable oil and food processing industries. Before 1920, heart disease in this country was rare. However, by the 1950′s heart disease was the leading cause of death in America. It still is today. If heart disease is, in fact, related to consumption of fats, we would expect it to be lower, as for the last 30 years we have decreased consumption of saturated fats. However, during this same period, we have greatly increased consumption of polyunsaturated fats from vegetable oils, in the form of liquid oils and margarine.
We now know that man made trans fats are to blame for the increases in cardiovascular disease (CVD), but conventional health “experts” are still not getting it. They have acknowledged that trans fats are bad, (New York City has actually banned the use of trans fats in restaurants) but they still go on about saturated fats being unhealthy. Let’s use a little common sense here. How does nature in her wisdom provide us with food that is bad for us? There is a disconnect here. People shun fats because they have been brainwashed into thinking eating fat makes you fat and causes disease. Think about it. How did our ancestors, who were certainly eating saturated fats from animals, avoid the high rates of CVD, cancer, autoimmune diseases, Alzheimer’s, etc. that we have in this country today?
I’ll tell you how. They did not eat man made fake fats. And they did eat a lot of naturally occurring saturated fats from all things in nature. That includes fat from the duck, the chicken, the goose, the turkey, the cow, the goat, the pig, the lamb, etc. You get the idea. Importantly, they rendered these fats from animals that were living their natural life in a humane and sustainable environment.
Today we can replicate that by eating animals that are pastured. Fats obtained from pastured animals are natural fats that are part of our physiology. Fifty percent of the brain is fat and cholesterol. All the nerves are coated with a fatty substance called myelin, without which autoimmune diseases like multiple sclerosis develop. The lungs need a saturated fat called surfactant to line the alveoli, without which, breathing difficulties develop. Without these fats we get sick.
Another aspect of the “low fat” debacle is the recommendation to eat polyunsaturated fatty acids from vegetables. This would include highly refined oils such as soy, corn, cottonseed, and canola. Canola oil is made from rapeseed which is extremely toxin to humans unless it is highly refined. Cottonseed is not even edible by humans until it is again, highly refined. Soy, corn, cottonseed and canola are also the four main genetically modified crops, therefore most of the commercial oil on the market today and used in packaged goods is GMO. Who knows what that is doing to our health.
Clearly, the problems today stem from the fact that people are starving for healthy animal fats. They have been told not to eat them. Instead they have been told to eat man-made, highly refined (think of an industrial oil refinery) oils that are cheap to manufacture, but that are foreign to our physiology. In these refineries, oil is obtained by crushing the seeds and heating them to 230 degrees F. The seeds are then squeezed at pressures of 10 to 20 tons per inch. This generates more heat. During the process the oil is exposed to light and oxygen which is damaging to it’s fragile structure, creating free radicals. And finally, in order to extract the last 10% of the oil from the seeds, a solvent is used — usually hexane, and up to 100 parts per million of this toxic chemical is allowed to remain in the oil. In addition, all this heating and processing destroys the fat soluble vitamins like vitamin E which are also natural preservatives. Then artificial preservatives like cancer causing BHT and BHA are added. Knowing this, will you ever look at commercial oils the same?
Every cell in our bodies has a membrane that protects it by keeping the toxic elements out and the nutrients in. It is a double layer called a phospholipid membrane. You get the “lipid” part — it is made of fat. More than half of the cell membrane is composed of saturated fat. What happens when there is not enough saturated fat around? The body uses whatever fat is available. If this is trans fat because the person has been eating margarine, that is what will be incorporated into the cell membrane. However, these “fake” fats have a different structure than the saturated fats and this creates breaks in the links of the phospholipid membrane. If the membrane is not sound, because of these unnatural fats, the potential for toxins to get into the cell increases and the potential for nutrients to flow out increases. The membrane is no longer protective. This is a set up for all kinds of diseases including, heart disease, cancer, autoimmune diseases and other diseases of inflammation.
Our USDA prescribed guidelines for low fat consumption is misled and a recipe for disaster and disease. We are living that now. As saturated fat consumption has decreased, heart disease, cancer, obesity and diabetes has increased in alarming rates. Our children are getting diseases of adulthood, not to mention the epidemic numbers of children on the autistic spectrum. The Solution is to stop buying low fat foods and start to eat real, full fat foods obtained from humanely raised animals the way nature intended. Stay tuned for my next post in The Fat Connection Series.
Nourishing Traditions by Sally Fallon and Mary Enig
Fat, An Appreciation of a Misunderstood Ingredient with Recipes by Jennifer McLagan