Why fat doesn't make you fat.

Low fat diets came on to the scene decades ago when an incomplete study published that saturated fats found in animal products were the leading cause of heart disease. This lead to a society that believed a low fat diet was healthier. ( Just to add there is still no data to prove that saturated fat causes heart disease, more likely a diet high in refined sugar, trans fat and processed foods)

Many people also believe the myth that you are what you eat, therefore if you eat fat, you will become fat. This has led to a nation avoiding dietary fat and therefore missing out on a vital nutrient. Fat is NOT the enemy but actually your friend and essential for building healthy hormones.

Healthy fats fuel healthy hormones and help keep inflammation low. Poly unsaturated and mono unsaturated fats are amongst the health promoting fats which include essential fatty acids such as Omega 3 and Omega 6 ( that need to be obtained through the diet as our bodies cannot make them). Omega 6 EFA are found in: vegetable oils such as corn & soy, nuts, & seeds. Omega 3 EFA are found in: Oily fish (Sardines, Mackerel, Anchovies, Herrings, Salmon) Flaxseeds, hemp seeds & chia seeds. Omega 3 and Omega 6 work in balance with one another, so its vital we get a good ratio. EFA are biologically active and play a role in such things as blood clotting, brain function, growth and development and inflammation. The process of inflammation is essential to us – it protects our bodies from infection and injury, but it can also cause damage where an inflammatory response is inappropriate. Simply speaking Omega 6 mostly causes inflammation and Omega 3 reduces it so it is crucial that you are getting an equal balance in your diet. 

So whats the link with fats and hormone production? Did you know that you NEED fats for hormone production? Yup, thats right we NEED cholesterol (found in fats) in order for our body to make our steroid hormones such as oestrogen, progesterone and testosterone. Without sufficient sex hormone production, we start to see imbalances in other areas of our bodies. Remember our hormones are like chemical messengers, communicating with one an other to perform nearly every function within the body. If certain hormones are not being made, there is a a gap in the communication which can then have a domino effect on other hormones and functions in the body. This can effect sleep, weight management, fertility and mood just to name a few.

Like with everything It depends on the quality and source of fats you are choosing. I am not advocating eating high amounts of processed and fried foods, but what I am saying is that we need to be including beneficial fats into our diet on a daily basis. Make sure to include a diet rich in nuts, seeds, olives, olive oil, avocados, nut butter, tahini, flaxseeds, and oily fish. Not only will this help the production of steroid hormones, it will help promote satiety, reduce inflammation, improve skin health, and help to balance blood sugar levels.

Trans fats are the fats found in processed and packaged foods such as cakes, pastries, bread and fried foods and can be linked to an increase in LDL ( the bad cholesterol), lower levels of HDL  (the beneficial cholesterol) and higher abdominal fat. These are the types of fats that we want to limit, as they have no health promoting benefits and can lead to heart disease ,strokes and type 2 diabetes.
NOTE: I m not saying don't enjoy these foods from time to time, with everything, moderation is key. 

Take away messages: 
  • Fats are essential for the production of our sex hormones.
  • Eating dietary fat does not automatically make you fat.
  • A diet high in poly/mono unsaturated fats has been linked to reduced risk of heart disease, LDL cholesterol, blood pressure and atherosclerosis. 
  • Omega 3 and Omega 6 Fatty acids are essential to health and must be consumed in our diet as they cannot be made by the body
  • To reduce the amount of Omega 6 fatty acids we consume we need to reduce our  intake of fast and processed food and eat whole foods.
  • To increase Omega 3 consumption, eat 2-3 portions of oily fish weekly and/or eat a diet rich in foods such as walnuts and flaxseeds.
  • Reduce intake of Trans fat (from processed and packaged foods) as this can cause inflammation which can increase risk of heart disease, stroke, and type 2 diabetes.

If you have any questions, please don't hesitate to ask 

Love H xx