There is essentially no metabolic process in the entire body that does not require the use of fats. Fats, or lipids, are considered one of the big three ‘macro’ nutrients, being a group distinct from proteins or carbohydrates. What’s crazy right now, is despite increasing obesity levels there seems to be a epidemic of fat deficiency in the western world!
In the last forty to fifty years, the prevailing wisdom has been that it is wise to curtail the amount of fat in your diet – drastically if possible. Low-fat yoghurts, cereals, crackers, biscuits – you name it, there’s a low-fat version of it out there somewhere.
However, if you look at the evidence, you will also see that this fifty year period has also seen a completely unprecedented increase in a number of chronic and fatal problems, from heart disease, cancer, and dermatitis, to depression, immune diseases and degenerative neuronal diseases. So what is going on?
Is Fat Deficiency Causing These Problems?
Is it completely crazy to suggest that there might be a link between these all-too-common health problems and the fact that people have been frantically trying to moderate or otherwise reduce their intake of fats?
Well, since every single metabolic process in the entire body relies on fats, this may not be as strange as it may sound.
The humble cell, of which there are several trillions in your body, is surrounded, defined by its cellular membrane. Membranes are made out of compounds manufactured from fats. Every single cell in your body. Since bones, skin, organs, blood cells (both white and red) are comprised of cells, are all going to be affected by your intake, or not, of the right kind of fats, it is clear that the quest to eliminate fats might be a fool’s errand, or, even worse, a suicide mission.
What is also worth remembering is that nerve cells, or neurons, are incredibly reliant on fats, since they not only have lengthy extended membranes (these are for the signalling branches or dendrites), but also because these extensions are sheathed in another type of cell – the glial cell. These are cells that form a sheath around the nerves. Lack of essential fatty acids (only obtainable from fats, naturally), can lead to degeneration of these vital components of life. Since we are talking about the entire nervous system here, you should be starting to realise that essential fatty acids are not called that because you don’t need them to survive.
Fats are Essential to Life
The fact of manufacture of vital membranes aside (did I mention muscle cells?), fats are also essential to a variety of other metabolic processes, the most mentionable, in my opinion, being the eicosanoid pathway. This is a certain group of chemical messengers who sit right at the top of various metabolic pathways that help regulate and govern immunity, inflammation and the central nervous system (that’s your brain and all the nerves, right to the tips of your toes).
As a result, deficiency of fats has been linked to obesity, diabetes, eczema, asthma, mental illness and inflammatory bowel diseases. Any of this sound familiar?
It is for this reason that many hospitals now have posters up recommending the intake of fish oils to supplement these Essential Fats in the diet, but the real push should be for people to incorporate these things into their diets. Seeds and nuts are great sources, as are high-welfare meats, particularly game. Coconut oil, grass-fed butter, tallow, duck fat, olive oil – there are so many beautifully delicious ways to get your fats in.
It’s time to stop this low-fat nonsense and get healthy. If there is anything not right with you physically, anything at all, make sure you are getting enough good fats in to aid healing.
And if you’re in perfect health, make sure you’re getting those fats in so you stay that way!