Explaining why the popular misconception “if you eat fat, you’ll get fat” has contributed to the obesity epidemic
Fat is one of the body’s most basic building blocks, comprising about 15% of our overall weight. In our diet, fat (from animal or vegetable sources) provides a concentrated energy source. Contrary to popular belief, a fairly high percentage of diverse, good quality fats are required for optimal health. Although now slowly changing, for several decades now, a lot of health advice has unfairly promoted a low-fat diet. The problem with this is that it almost always equates to a high-sugar and/or high-refined carbohydrate diet that contributes to insulin resistance, obesity, heart disease, type 2 diabetes and numerous other health problems.
Never before has mankind experienced such an urgent need to lower blood sugar levels. Unfortunately for humans, we only produce one hormone (insulin) to reduce blood sugar levels, while we produce three hormones (glucagon, cortisol and epinephrine) to increase it. From an evolutionary perspective, this indicates that we were never designed for such high blood sugar levels. Over time the body may lose its ability to produce insulin in the quantities required or become resistant to persistently high levels of insulin. This is what leads to diabetes.
Our bodies are simply not made to handle the excessive amount of sugar most people consume today. Along with diabetes, a variety of other degenerative, chronic illnesses can result. These include cancer, cardiovascular disease, hypertension, obesity, hormone imbalances, fertility issues, chronic fatigue, depression and hyperactivity, all of which can be directly linked to high sugar intake and the effects of insulin.
Insulin is a hormone that signals cells in the body to take up glucose. Overconsumption of sugar and simple carbohydrates causes the tissues to become saturated with glucose. Over time, the cells lose their ability to accept additional glucose. At this point the cells begin to ignore the insulin signal. As insulin loses its effect on target cells, blood glucose levels soar, leading to pre-diabetes and eventually Type II diabetes. This form of diabetes is a result of dietary indiscretion and is, for the most part, reversible with dietary and lifestyle changes along with targeted nutritional therapy.
The take-home point here is that fats are not ‘good’ or ‘bad’. What’s important is that we consume high quality fats in the appropriate ratios. The simplest way to achieve this is by eating a whole-food diet that is high in quality fats and fibre and low in refined carbohydrates and low-glycemic index. This includes healthy fats like avocados, coconut oil, olive oil, properly prepared (activated) nuts and seeds, and free range organic eggs.
You can find a handy healthy fat cheat sheet at the link below:
Cate Jephcott manages customer service, administration and reception across both MOSIC Centres. She is currently midway through a qualification at the Nutritional Therapy Association. If you would like to speak with Cate or one of our other practitioners about nutrition or creating a healthier lifestyle, then please feel free to ask a question, contact us or email us at: