Our bodies need fat. Stored fat insulates body organs against shock, helps maintain body temperature, and serves as energy stores. More than 60 percent of our brain is made of fat.
Fats that come from our diet are necessary for the absorption of fat soluble vitamins. Fatty acids play a vital role in maintaining healthy skin, healthy hair, and promoting healthy cell function (which is the foundation of good health). Dietary fats are the source of fatty acids our bodies need.
If you are underweight, physically fit, or even overweight, chances are you are not eating enough of the right kinds of fats. Though obesity is epidemic, Raymond Francis estimates more than 90% of the American people are deficient in needed fatty acids.
Most of the fat eaten in the modern diet is partially hydrogenated fats or saturated fats. Our diet is also too high in omega 6 fatty acids. While we need to eliminate trans fats altogether, a proper balance of the other fatty acids is one of the foundations of a healthy, balanced diet.
Man-made trans fatty acids are fats that have been partially hydrogenated, which involves adding hydrogen to the fat molecule of an unsaturated fat. Some common examples are shortening and margarine. Turning an oil into a trans-fat increases its shelf life, improves consistency for processing (making the oil thicker), and dramatically prolongs the shelf life of the products made with them (pastries, fried foods, crackers, cookies, snack foods, and many other processed and prepackaged foods), which is why trans fats are so pervasive in the American diet. Unfortunately, this process produces unnatural molecules that our bodies do not know how to handle. (Trans-fats that occur naturally in small quantities in meat and milk from cows, goats, and sheep and in pomegranates, cabbage, and peas are harmless.)
Man-made trans fats are toxic and should be completely avoided. A diet high in trans-fats dramatically raises the risk of coronary heart disease or stroke and puts you at higher risk of developing type II diabetes.
SATURATED vs MONUNSATURATED vs POLYUNSATURATED
When a fat is said to be a saturated fat, or a poly unsaturated fat, or a mono unsaturated fat this means it contains more of the aforementioned fatty acids than any others. For instance, coconut oil is a saturated fat because it is highest in saturated fatty acids, but it does contain other fatty acids as well.
Saturated Fatty Acids
Saturated fats are highly stable because all the carbon-atom linkages are filled—or saturated—with hydrogen. These fats do not normally go rancid, even when heated. They are solid or semisolid at room temperature.
Monounsaturated Fatty Acids
Monounsaturated fatty acids have one double bond in the form of two
carbon atoms double-bonded to each other. Therefore they lack two hydrogen atoms. Monounsaturated fats are usually liquid at room temperature, and like saturated fats, they are relatively stable. They do not go rancid easily and they can also be used in cooking.
Polyunsaturated Fatty Acids
Polyunsaturated fatty acids have two or more pairs of double bonds and, therefore, lack four or more hydrogen atoms. Two polyunsaturated fatty acids, linoleic acid, an omega 6 fatty acid and linolenic acid, an omega 3 fatty acid are “essential fatty acids” or EFA’s. All of the other fatty acids can be made by converting one kind of fatty acid into another, but these two must come from our diet. The polyunsaturated fatty acids are liquid, even when refrigerated. These oils are highly reactive. They go rancid easily, (especially omega-3 linolenic acid), and should be treated with care. Polyunsaturated oils should never be used in cooking or heated at all.
Saturated fats are found in animal products and tropical oils. Examples of foods high in saturated fats include lard, butter, whole milk, cream, eggs, red meat, chocolate, and solid shortenings.
The typical American diet is too high in saturated fat. The source of this fat is the typical animal raised for human consumption or raised to produce milk or eggs. Our beef, chicken, and pork are usually fed grains rather than their natural diets. In addition they are fed or injected with antibiotics and growth hormones. These animals are diseased, full of cancer, and extremely acidic. Their body fats are also unbalanced; they are way too high in omega 6s.
And yet, saturated fats are as essential to our health as unsaturated fats. Raymond Francis says, “Saturated fat is what gives the cell membrane backbone. It gives stiffness to the cell membrane. Obviously, this is necessary, but when you get too much saturated fat in the diet, the cell membrane is too stiff. Consequently the tissue made out of these cells is too stiff. Then you have people pulling muscles, and tendons, because their tissues are not elastic enough, they are too stiff.”
Fat Excessive saturated fat intake can raise your blood cholesterol and increase your risk of developing coronary artery disease.
Omega 3s, 6s and 9s are three classifications of fatty acids. Both omega 3s and omega 6s are polyunsaturated fatty acids. Omega 9’s are monounsaturated fatty acids. Omega 9s are the most abundant fatty acids in nature. They are not in short supply in our diets. Plus omega 9 fatty acids can be used by the body as a substitute for most of the omega 3s or 6s if these fatty acids are not present. However, omega 9s really aren’t an ideal replacement, and the body will eventually suffer from this.
While you may hear that Omega 3s and 6s are essential fatty acids, this is an oversimplification that leads to yet another common misunderstanding. These groups of fatty acids contains one essential fatty acid each:
- Alpha linoleic acid (ALA) is an omega 3 essential fatty acid.
- Linoleic acid (LA) is an omega 6 essential fatty acid.
Our bodies cannot create these essential fatty acids or convert other fatty acids into ALA or LA. But both of these essential fatty acids can be converted into other fatty acids as needed.
Omega 6s – an Inflammation Epidemic
In general, omega 6s promote inflammation, and omega 3s reduce inflammation.
Of the two, what’s most readily available in our modern society is pro-inflammatory Omega 6’s.
Some of the most common oils include soy, corn, safflower, sunflower, and canola. These commercial oils are high in omega 6’s and low in omega 3’s (they are almost always processed, and for many reasons toxic).
The abundance of omega 6 fatty acids is causing an epidemic of inflammation-related disease. Virtually every single chronic disease in modern society is inflammation related. Dr. Kelly tells us, “The ratio of omega 6s to omega 3s in our diet is typically It is always best to get nutrients the way Mother Nature provides them. between 10 to 1 and 30 to 1. An optimal ratio is closer to equal, and certainly no higher than 4 to 1.”
“Inflammation is literally killing us,” says Dr. Kelly. “Virtually all disease and illness is related to inflammation. If you suffer from arthritis, heart disease, fibromyalgia, chronic fatigue syndrome, sinusitis, allergies, acne, asthma, digestive conditions, flu symptoms, dysmenorrheal, endometriosis, Alzheimer’s disease, Parkinson’s disease, multiple sclerosis, cancer, osteoporosis, hypertension, depression, the insulin resistance syndrome (pre-diabetes), or diabetes, colitis, headaches, chronic inflammation of any kind, or menstrual cramps – and this list is not complete – you have inflammation-related illness. Inflammation is the epidemic.”
Raymond Francis agrees, “Yes, we are getting far too many omega 6s and too few omega 3s in our diet. This imbalance is a major contributor to our epidemic of chronic disease. Excess omega 6s cause inflammation and every chronic disease is inflammatory.”
Inflammation is a natural first step to healing. But ingesting so many toxins with the foods we consume and the chemicals we come in contact with is not natural. We are constantly damaging our bodies, causing chronic inflammation, and then, on top of it, we give our bodies too many omega 6s, the fats that promote inflammation, and not nearly enough of the omega 3s, the fats that finish the healing process. It’s a cycle that is absolutely killing us and is either directly or indirectly linked to almost every single disease.
Balance is the key.
Cooking With Oils
Safflower, sunflower, corn, soy, and cottonseed oils are polyunsaturated fats. And though unstable (remember they easily go rancid and should never be used for cooking) they are extremely common in processed foods and often used for cooking.
Heating oils can introduce hydrogen atoms into the fat molecules. This happens quickly and easily with polyunsaturated fats, producing the unnatural trans-fats.
Remember, though flax seed oil is very healthy, it is also a polyunsaturated fat and is too unstable for cooking.
Monounsaturated fats are more stable (they already have more hydrogen atoms in the molecule). But cooking with monounsaturated oils at a high heat can ruin their health properties. Raymond tells us, “When you heat an oil too high you can turn it into trans fats. When you see an oil that is smoking, it’s too hot.” (But again, this rule does not work for polyunsaturated fats. Don’t cook with them.)
Raymond suggests cooking with olive oil, or even better, coconut oil or ghee. “Coconut oil is already saturated, so it’s much more stable.”
Eating Healthy Fats
Foods to avoid include meat or dairy products from animals that are not fed their natural diet and unnatural processed foods. Also, wheat, oats, and corn should be limited (there are strong arguments for eliminating corn and wheat from your diet completely, but that’s another story).
Dr. Kelly says, “We weren’t meant to eat grains so often. Oatmeal has a (omega 6 to omega 3) ratio of 21 to 1!”
For most people, there is nothing more beneficial to health than making sure the ratio of fatty acids in the diet are correct. This is just as important as an alkaline diet. The best way to achieve both these objectives is to (and if you have been reading all of the OLM issues you’ll know what we are about to say), EAT MORE RAW, FRESH, ORGANIC FRUITS AND VEGETABLES! For optimum health, even if your diet is near perfect, you will benefit from fatty acid supplements.
Fatty Acid Supplementation
We need the broad spectrum of fatty acids including saturated fatty acids, omega 3, omega 6, and omega 9 fatty acids. “It is always best to get nutrients the way Mother Nature provides them. Each of these molecules is used in many ways by the body and we need to supply them all in the correct ratios, which is what nature provides in a traditional healthy diet,” says Raymond Francis. He recommends Udo’s oil 3-6-9 as a source for balanced omega 3s and 6s (as does Dr. Shillington).
Francis and Dr. Kelly also add fish oil to their diet to increase their intake of docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) and eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA). These two fatty acids are absolutely critical to one’s health, and are in extremely short supply in the modern diet. Most healthy people can make these fatty acids from essential fatty acids, but the conversion is weak and most of us will benefit from supplementing our diet with them. In fact, some people, particularly those whose ancestors ate a lot of fish, lack enzymes to produce DHA, and EPA.
Dr. Kelly tells us “Get a high quality fish oil, which provides you with DHA and EPA. A high quality fish oil should not smell fishy. If it does, it’s rancid. I recommend Nordic Naturals cod liver oil.” Raymond Francis recommends Carlson Cod Liver Oil, but agrees Nordic is a good brand. Algae provide vegan DHA and EPA supplementation of DHA and EPA.
Remember, balance is the key to health. We need to eliminate trans-fats (the unnatural manmade oils and shortenings) and balance our other fats to provide our bodies with the nutrients and building blocks to heal and to function as nature intended.