The Low Down on Fats

5 Minute Read

Fats have had a bad reputation for decades, but they have triumphantly made their way back in our diets! So, what are fats used for in the body? Why are they so important?

Functions of Fats

Fats function in the body as:

    Energy source - Fats are a source of energy for your cells. Fats are a highly concentrated form of energy - they hold twice as much energy per gram compared to carbohydrates and proteins.

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    Vitamin absorption - Fat is required to absorb certain vitamins in your digestive system, including vitamins A, D, E, and K⁠

    Structural - Fatty acids make up components of your cells, including the outside barrier called the cell membrane. Fatty acids also make up components of some hormones in the body.

Omega-3 and Omega-6 Fats

Let’s talk more about fatty acids that make up cell membranes. The cell membrane controls what goes into and out of the cell. In addition, numerous chemical reactions actually occur WITHIN the cell membrane.

Different types of polyunsaturated fatty acids (or PUFAs) make up the fats within the cell membrane, including Omega-3 and Omega-6 fatty acids. Your diet directly affects which type of omega fats gets incorporated into your cell membrane. These types of omega fatty acids will also directly affect your health!

Two PUFAs that are absolutely essential to the body (meaning you have to get them from your diet) are Omega-3 and Omega-6 types. If you want to be sciency about it, they are called Linoleic Acid (LA) and Alpha-Linolenic Acid (ALA). Your body can take these fatty acids and alter them into other Omega-3 or Omega-6 fatty acids, including DHA, AA, GLA, and EPA.⁠

Our problem in Western diets is that we have WAY too much Omega-6 fatty acids. Ideally, we want an Omega-6 vs Omega-3 ratio of 2:1. Right now, most people are eating more like a ratio of 40:1!!⁠

Why is this a problem? The high amounts of Omega-6 fats creates high levels of inflammation in the body. Not good!!! So, although we need Omega-6 fatty acids, we just don’t need them at such a high amounts.⁠

Beware of Toxic Fats

We also need to address TOXIC fats! Toxic fats are highly inflammatory in the body that wreak havoc on our tissues. We need to have healthy fats that don’t create this inflammatory reaction! Toxic fats commonly found in our diets are canola oil, vegetable oil, soybean oil, peanut oil, corn oil, and grapeseed oil.⁠ ⁠ How did we get these toxic fats into our diet? Starting in the 1960’s, saturated fats (like animal fats) became the villain, which caused us to move toward more refined sugar and man-made fats. The combination of toxic fats and overconsumption of sugar has created the obesity epidemic AND numerous health problems!⁠

People often are not efficient fats burners because their bodies are busy using up all of the excess carbohydrates that they consume. So, we need healthy fats in our diet while we are watching carbohydrate consumption!⁠

Healthy Fats and When To Use Them

Let’s dive into what are healthy fats and when you should use them! Healthy fats will help heal your body as they are used for energy and building blocks in your cells. Healthy fats are also used to make chemicals in the body that help to reduce inflammation. ⁠ ⁠ Fats that can be used during the cooking process:⁠ ⁠

    〰️ Coconut Oil⁠
    〰️ Butter⁠
    〰️ Tallow⁠
    〰️ Duck Fat⁠
    〰️ Or any animal fat!⁠
    〰️ Avocado Oil⁠

Note: Use organic coconut oil and for any animal fat - use grass-fed or pasture raised!⁠

Fats that can be consumed, but NOT used in the cooking process:⁠
    〰️ Olive Oil⁠
    〰️ Nut Oils (walnut oil, almond oil, hazelnut oil)⁠
    〰️ Flaxseed Oil⁠
    〰️ Nut Butters⁠
    〰️ Seed Butters⁠

Note: It’s best to use organic and cold-pressed oils!⁠

Keep in mind that you are trying to lose weight, overconsumption of fats will contribute to weight gain. This doesn’t necessarily mean that you need to avoid these healthy fats, but be careful with your serving size.

Fats and Your Brain

Your brain uses MORE energy than any other organ in the body!!! I guess it’s no surprise that your most important organ needs the most power! In fact, 50% of the dry weight of the brain comes from lipids, which is a category that includes fats and cholesterol. This is why having HEALTHY fats in your diet is so important for brain function. ⁠

Studies show that dietary fat affects cognition, mood, behavior and hormonal responses all derived in the brain. So, how is this connection between the fats that you eat and brain function maintained in the body? In your GUT!⁠

The gut is often referred to as our “second brain” because the brain and the gut talk to each other all the time AND influence each other’s functions. My patients commonly see a huge difference in memory, focus, mood, and a decrease in brain fog as I help them to improve their diet and overall health.⁠

For my science nerds out there - the connection between the brain and gut is called the “gut-brain” axis. Your gut is home to TRILLIONS of bacteria that aid in digestion, but if our diet is poor, the gut becomes home to bad bacteria.

These bad guys end up wreaking havoc on the lining of the intestinal tract and causing it to have gaps in between cells. If this happens, those bad bacteria make toxins, which end up in our bloodstream by slipping through those gaps. These toxins create chronic inflammation in all organs, including the brain. Chronic inflammation leads to DISEASE!⁠

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