Heal Inflammation with Dietary Fats
It's time to move away from sugars, and into fats. It's amazing to me how different nutrition is from what I grew up learning and knowing. I was a child of the low-fat movement. I remember my parents buying low-fat and no-fat products. I remember classroom nutrition telling me how eating fats was going to cause heart disease, cancer, etc… OH how the tables have turned. This was a big hiccup in nutritional history, and we are beginning to learn the evil of these ways.
These diets were super high in refined flours, grains and sugars, but low in many nutritional fats. This was also the time when margarine and artificial sweeteners were considered healthier than their nutritionally dense counterparts. From these diets we have seen an incredible spike in degenerative diseases.
Now is the time of fats. The nutritional necessity of fats is only beginning to be understood.
Fats are complicated. Please read up on my previous blog posts on fats:
Differentiating Dietary Fats
In Modern nutrition it is much easier to lump all similar fats into simple categories.
Saturated Fats = Bad
Polyunsaturated Fats = Good
Well, it is not just this simple. There are good AND bad versions in each category. In today's post, we are going to talk about the Benefits of Dietary Fats in regards to balancing and healing inflammation in our body. There is so much more that fats do for us, but for the sake of spending days (which we still will, hehe) on all the great things fats do in our body, we will focus on the benefits in healing inflammation and chronic pain. If you have any questions, as always, you can email me.
The Need For Fats
I already mentioned that fats are an energy source in the body, giving us long lasting cellular energy, but there is so much more that fat is necessary for in the body.
Fats Build Our Cells
Each and every one of our cells is surrounded by a lipid bilayer membrane. A skin of fat, so to speak. This lip bilayer is composed of saturated fats, to give it stability, and polyunsaturated fats to give it flexibility. These fats (saturated and polyunsaturated bound fats) are called phospholipids. This phospholipid Bilayer has many different roles, and is an active part of the cell and our body.
You are what you eat, even at the cellular level. Diets rich in inflammatory Omega 6 (Arachidonic Acid), and Hydrogenated Fatty Acids will have cell membranes that are prone to inflammatory responses. The cell membrane should be made up of healthy Saturated Fats, Cholesterol, and Omega 3 Fatty Acids, all of these have anti inflammatory properties and keep the cells inflammatory responses regulated.
Fat Soluble Vitamins Need Fats to Be Absorbed and Assimilated into the Body
I have talked before about the different fat soluble vitamins, and will do so tomorrow in specific regards to their roles in the inflammation and pain responses.
There are four Fat Soluble Vitamins (A, E, D, and K). Each of these are necessary for regulating inflammation and our hormone responses. Each of these NEED fats in the diet to be properly absorbed and utilized.
Many of the food sources of these Vitamins naturally occur with fats.
Research does show that vegetable based fat-soluble vitamins need fats to be absorbed, example: Human consumption of Beta-Carotene (the plant version of Vitamin A) from raw salads with no dressing, showed an absorption rate of just above 0… Adding a Canola Oil based reduced fat dressing increased the absorption slightly, while the full fat dressing increased absorption significantly.
Saturated fats have been shown to be better at fat soluble vitamin absorption than Poly unsaturated fatty acids, with monounsaturated somewhere in the middle. Another plus to adding Grass Fed Butter!
This applies to supplements as well. If you are on a Vitamin D supplement, you should be taking it with a meal rich in healthy fats.
Fats are the Building Block of the Myelin Sheath of the Nerves and Are Necessary for Brain Health
The function and growth of the Myelin begins in the womb. Comparison studies, on rats, that compare two different diets from pregnancy through weaning (1. rich Omega 3 diet 2. Rich Margarine Diet). There was a significant difference in nerve function from the babies born to diet 1 to those born to diet 2. Those in the Rich Omega 3 Diet showed a significant increase in Myelination proteins. Those in the Margarine Diet were born with birth defects including blindness.
The Myelin Sheath is a waxy coating that surrounds neurons, it is made up of 80% fats, most of which is made up of Essential Fatty Acids. Essential Fatty Acids are those that our body cannot make on its own, and must be consumed in the diet.
When the Myelin is fat deficient or damaged from chronic inflammation, these processed are weakened. Such as in the disease Multiple Sclerosis (MS). Causing dysfunction in pain perception, motor function, memory and cognitive dysfunction.
There are specific diets that have been designed to treat diseases of the myelin sheaths. These diets are extremely high in fat and extremely low in carbohydrate. One of these such diets is the Ketogenic Diet that was designed to treat Seizures and seizure like migraines. It is a very successful diet, that is now being used to treat a variety of cognitive and nerve dysfunctions including depression, Alzheimer's and Parkinson's. This diet leans heavily on fats, being made up of 70+% fats. If you are interested in this diet, please seek a profession that is TRAINED in this specific diet. There are some issues that you need to make sure you stay on top of...Mineral deficiencies can happen if you are not follow the diet correctly.
Our Brain Needs Fat
We just talked about the important role in the nerve health, and this is a connection to that. The brains is made up of 60% fat, mostly saturated. There is a world of conditions associated with cognitive function starting in childhood: ADD/ADHA, Migraines, Foggy Brain, Mental Fatigue, etc...
The two main fats necessary for brain health are Cholesterol and Saturated Fats
Cholesterol, a type of dietary fat, is necessary for mental function. Dietary cholesterol has long been the bad guy, and to some extent it still is. It has been blamed for raising blood cholesterol levels and causing heart disease. Much like the idea that fat in your diet will make you fat, cholesterol in diet has long been thought to in increase cholesterol levels. Well, here is another little secret...diets LOW in fats and cholesterol cause bad blood cholesterol levels.
When we consume a meal, our body produces a combination of acids, enzymes, and bile to breakdown the meal. The enzymes and acids help break down the proteins and carbohydrates, the bile breaks down fats. If there is not enough fat in the meal, the excess bile is reabsorbed into the body...as BAD Cholesterol!!! Mind blowing, isn't it.
Dietary cholesterol, on the other hand, has a purpose. One of those purposes is to to regenerate new nerve cells (Neurogenesis). Another is communication between nerve cells.
Saturated Fats, have also been vilified. A study by the Mayo Clinic found that diets higher in Saturated Fats had a decrease in cognitive dysfunction, specifically dementia.
Saturated Fats are the building blocks of the brain. Without adequate amounts of good saturated fats, the brain cannot heal damage.
Fats are the Backbone of our Hormones
When we say hormones, most of us are thinking about our reproductive hormones (Estrogen, Testosterone, Progesterone, etc..). These are made from fat, but they are not the only hormones in the body. Specifically Saturated Fats. Not only do the help to create our hormones, but help to navigate fat soluble vitamins to the organs that produce hormones to help regulate their production.
There is still some mystery out there. Some recent studies showed benefits from a lower carbohydrate higher fat diet on our hormones
Fats are Necessary for Proper Immune Functions
Specifically Polyunsaturated Omega 3 Fatty Acids. Omega 3 fatty acids, are essential and must be consumed in the diet. They are also an important Fat in the regulation of immune inflammation responses, as seen in autoimmune diseases.
Research links higher fat diets with a decrease in autoimmune function. While diets lower in fats, are linked with a hyper responsive immune system. Fats help to regulate the responses of killer T cells.
Fats Help to Lubricate Our Joints
We have talked about how the structure of free floating sugars in the blood cause damage and irritate joints. Dietary fats help to counteract this. Another way it helps is through the health of Synovial Fluid.
Synovial fluid is the lubricant that is produced by cells in all of our joints and at connections of connective tissue. It is the oil in the cogs that keeps our joints working and moving properly. Synovial fluid consists primarily of hyaluronic Acid. Dietary fat is necessary for the digestion and absorption of Hyaluronic Acid in the diet. Most food sources of Hyaluronic acid are found along with fat....animal skin and joints.
Fat is necessary to repair damage to Bone, Cartilage, Muscle and Connective Tissue. Without enough fat, or the wrong types of fat, the healing is slow or the new cells weak. Saturated fats, specifically, are necessary in the assimilation of Calcium into the bones.
Fats Help to Regulate Inflammatory Responses
Polyunsaturated Fatty Acids (PUFA) are the precursors, or the building blocks, of Eicosanoids. Eicosanoids are inflammation promoters and are derived from Arachidonic Acid, an Omega 6 PUFA. In order to balance out this effect, there needs to be enough anti-inflammatory Omega 3 PUFA, specifically EPA, to balance out these effects.
In our Modern Diet we are consuming an excess amount of Omega 6 fatty acids in the form of conventional meat and dairy products. By simply changing the quality of our meat to Pasture and Grass Raised, we dramatically change the structure of the Omega's in the meat. For year the saturated fats in red meat have been blamed for the increased rates of heart disease. The vast amount of Omega 6 in these meats is most likely the cause. When analyzing the composition of fat in clogged arteries, the majority 75+% was Polyunsaturated, not Saturated Fats.
In order to have a normal reactive inflammatory system, we need to have a balance of Omega 3 and Omega 6. In most diets, we do not. If you are in a Chronic inflammatory state, you actually need more Omega 3 than you would normally to regulate the inflammatory responses.
Breakfast #7: Wilted Greens and Eggs; Strawberries; Coffee
A Fried Egg with Wilted Greens is an incredibly easy and fast breakfast. If you are pressed for time, there is no reason you cannot make this. It literally take 5 minutes MAX start to finish.
In a skillet, I have a little 1-2 egg personalized skillet that is amazing and I highly recommend getting one, add 1/2 TBSP Grass-Fed Butter, crack in your egg and season with salt and pepper if desired. Top with green of choice (Spinach, Arugula, Chard, Dandelion, just not Kale or other hard to wild greens). Flip egg, and the greens will finish wilting on the skillet side. Put on a plate and enjoy with fruits, avocado, hot sauce, etc...
Lunch #7: Kelp Noodle Bowl
I repurposed some of the leftovers I had into a yummy little asian noodle bowl. I love kimchi, and normally make my own. I have not had time lately and I am out. There is a lovely little Korean couple in town with a small Asian market. They make homemade kimchi and sell it. So, on my way to the office this morning, I swung in and grabbed some. Almost like Grandma's, but nothing is as good as my Grandma's Kimchi!!!! Want her Recipe, Click Here
In my bowl, I layered Kelp Noodles with Leftover Lemongrass Pork, Cucumber, Cabbage, Kim Chi, and these Fermented Black Beans (another yummy Korean snack). I drizzled it all with Toasted Sesame Seed Oil, and some REAL fermented Soy Sauce.
Dinner #7: Herb Grilled Chicken; Roasted Beet and Raw Milk Goat Cheese Salad with Balsamic Dressing
I completely burnt the chicken tonight. I am ashamed, but life goes on. I would normally eat the skin off this yummy little thigh, but removed the skin as it was too charred. It doesn't taste good, and the charring of meat can actually create some nasty compounds. This is too much for my comfort.
My raw milk, goat chèvre comes from a client. It is amazing!!!
Anti-inflammatory Diet: Basic Dietary Principles to Start Reducing Inflammation + Day 1 Menu Plan
Anti-inflammatory Diet: Cleaning Up Your Diet + Day 2 Menu Plan
Anti-inflammatory Diet: Top 10 Foods to Reduce Inflammation + Day 3 Menu Plan
Anti-inflammatory Diet: Sugar and Chronic Inflammation + Day 4 Menu Plan
Anti-inflammatory Diet: Sugar as a Drug + Day 5 Menu Plan
Anti-inflammatory Diet: Natural Sugar Options + Day 6 Menu Plan
Anti-inflammatory Diet: Fat Soluble Vitamins + Day 8 Menu Plan
Anti-inflammatory Diet: Food Allergies and Environmental Toxins + Day 9 Menu Plan
Anti-inflammatory Diet: Tips to Implement the Anti-Inflammatory Principles + Day 10 Menu Plan