Healthy fatty acid deficiency is truly epidemic in our culture. This can lead to musculoskeletal issues, endocrine issues, cardiovascular issues, immune issues, allergies/skin problems, depression etc. Most people do not associate fat with anything good. They think that eating fat leads to weight gain and that’s the end of the story. It is so sad to see this skewed view of something our body so desperately needs, especially when it has such an impact on our overall health. In this post, I want to share about the roles of fat in the body and why you should think twice about skimping on the fat.
- Fat provides a consistent source of energy
- Fats are the longer burning fuel. Think of them as a big log in the fire whereas carbohydrates are more like the kindling in the fire (quick burning).
- Fat are the building blocks for every cell membrane in the body
- This is a big one. We need to consume quality fats and appropriately break them down into fatty acids so they can be converted into phospholipids that make up our cell membranes. In other words, our cells (the tiny motors that keep us running) need fat in order to function properly!
- Fats are necessary for healthy liver function
- We need fats (including animal fats) to make healthy bile. Bile acts as a detergent and breaks down fats as well as removes toxins from the body.
- Fats are required for the absorption of the fat soluble vitamins A, D, E, and K
- These vitamins are so important for our health! Vitamin A regulates the immune system and the normal function of inflammatory cells. Vitamin A is also a vital component of bone and blood tissue and improves visual acuity. Vitamin D is essential for mineral metabolism, bone mineralization, moderating the immune system, energy production, and regulating mood/emotions. Vitamin E has abundant antioxidant activity, repairs tissues and heals wounds. Vitamin K is well known for its blood clotting factors.
- Fats are required for the adequate use of proteins
- Most foods have some amount of fat in them. These fatty acids are there to help your body metabolize the other nutrients within that food.
- Fat serves as a protective lining for the organs of the body
- Fat plays a role in slowing the absorption of food for proper energy regulation
- Many people overeat refined carbohydrates because they are simply not satiated. They are quickly burning through the sugars in the carbohydrates they are eating and left feeling unsatisfied. We need balanced fats each and every time we eat so that the absorption of our food is slowed and we have lasting energy.
- Fats are imperative to managing the inflammatory process
- This is a key feature of fats. Fatty acids are so important for both inflammation and anti-inflammation processes in the body. This has to do with prostaglandins (hormone like substances the body absolutely needs). This is a huge topic and will be saved for a later post, so for now just remember that without fats the body cannot inflame or anti-inflame and these two roles are so necessary for healing.
- Fat makes food taste good
- There is a reason for this! Sautéing some veggies in coconut oil or pastured lard is a great way to impart good flavor as well as get the benefit of fat in your diet.
After reading the roles of fat, I think it is clear just how important they are to include in our diets! However, not all fats are created equal. Stay tuned for Part 2 where I discuss healthy fat choices for your cupboard and why!