Eat more fat, your brain will thank you

Photo courtesy of https://foodiesfeed.com/healthy-fats/ :)

Photo courtesy of https://foodiesfeed.com/healthy-fats/ :)

Did you know that fat isn’t bad for you? 

Modern science has shown us that the low fat craze we’ve been living in since the 60s isn’t exactly accurate. Fat plays an integral role in our health, keeping our minds and bodies functioning properly. The misguided fear of fat stems from a focus on eating more grains instilled upon us by the USDA Food Pyramid.

The food pyramid was created more as a way to get people to eat more grains, not to improve anyone’s health.  The basis of the food pyramid, the first “Dietary Goals for the United States”, were created by Nick Mottern a former labor reporter for The Providence Journal who had never even written about science, nutrition, or health before. The pyramid image itself was copied from Sweden in 1988, who at the time had even higher rates of heart disease than the United States!

The USDA Food Pyramid is more a tool for increasing sales for large agribusinesses, than it is a guideline for healthy diets.

After being revised in 2010, the new food pyramid remained steadfast in its recommendations for products that benefit agricultural and food processing interests. In June of 2011 the USDA has published “My Plate” in hopes to replace the food pyramid with something more understandable, but the same low fat misinformation is still present.

It’s hard to beat a low carb, whole foods based diet.

Recent studies have shown the benefits of a diet higher in fat, going against the grain of the USDA’s profit driven recommendations. For example, it was found in a study conducted by Mayo Clinic researchers that diets higher in fat lead to a major reduction in the development of dementia (44% reduction!). Diets high in carbohydrates showed a terrifying 89% increase in the risk for developing dementia.

Believe it or not, our brains are composed of 60 percent fat.

One type of fat in particular, saturated fat, gets a particularly bad rap. What some of us have been told: saturated fat wants to clog up our arteries and jack up our cholesterol. This is a strange concept, seeing as how our brains are made up of 60% fats.  Saturated fats are not only a main component of our brain, they are required for healthy brain function.

 

High fat, low sugar diets can actually lead to really great cholesterol readings.

Many of the adverse health claims made regarding saturated fat are caused by the accompanying diet. It just so happens, at least here in America, that the average diet high in saturated fat is also quite high in, you guessed it, sugar.  Over time a diet high in carbohydrates leads to insulin sensitivity and even diabetes. Lowering carbs can be a challenge in a world filled with easy to make, cheap to buy, and sugar filled foods. To make matters worse, sugar itself is a highly addictive compound.


Have you ever felt sleepy after eating a plate of eggs and bacon?  What about after a few donuts?  

When you consume carbohydrates your body produces insulin. Insulin signals your body’s anabolic system, or as we like to say, it puts your body in “build mode”. While in “build mode” your body will be restoring and building muscle. Once your body has used the calories needed to repair itself, the remaining calories will be stored as fat. Insulin signals your cells to uptake the glucose(sugar) in your blood.

A side effect of a rise in insulin levels is what some refer to as the “crash”.  Insulin signals your cells to take in glucose for energy, thereby lowering the glucose levels in the blood, also known as blood sugar. When acclimated to a higher carb diet, a steady state of glucose levels means a steady state of energy. But a meal high in carbs inevitably reduces blood sugar and may cause a crash.

 
 



Unlike carbs, fat does not cause an insulin spike.

Very low carb diets such as the Keto diet have shown quite the list of positive health effects. More stable blood sugar levels, better cholesterol levels, and even the reversal of the symptoms of diabetes.

Avoiding insulin spikes is another benefit of low carb diets.

How many carbs cause an insulin spike? Well, much like anything health related we all respond differently. Some people can’t eat more than 10 grams of net carbs per meal without experiencing an insulin spike, while others can eat as many as 50 grams of net carbs without experiencing an insulin spike.

Hopefully by now your fear of fat has begun to dissipate. Changing the stigma around something so ingrained in our society is hard work! But in case you aren’t convinced yet let’s talk about a “super food” making its way into all of our kitchens.

 

One of the best sources for healthy fat is coconuts.

Coconuts, one of the healthiest foods on the planet, contain almost entirely saturated fat. Published studies show that coconut, in one form or another, may provide a wide range of health benefits. Everything from improving metabolism, reducing inflammation, and killing viruses all make the list of reasons why coconuts are great.

The MCTs found in coconuts have amazing health benefits.

Coconut oil is made up of ~60% Medium Chain Triglycerides (MCTs), a type of saturated fat.  These fats are used by your body for energy and have been shown to have both cognitive and metabolical benefits. MCTs go straight from the digestive tract to the liver, where they are likely to be turned into ketone bodies and provide a quick source of energy.

How can you benefit from more fat and less carbs?

We all have varying goals in mind when it comes to our own health. Some of us are fighting for six pack abs, battling those last 5 pounds, or just looking to set ourselves up for long term health. Maybe you’re looking for a clearer head, less drowsiness throughout the day, or maybe you’re tired of having to interrupt your flow with a snack every couple of hours. In any of these cases a diet lower in carbs can help.

You don’t have to count every carb, but you can easily keep an eye on your intake.

While tracking everything you eat is an effective way to control your health, we prefer a more hands off method. Just taking a moment before each meal to replace high carb items with lower carb alternatives can make all the difference. By being more mindful of what you eat, you can curb your carb intake and increase your intake of healthy fats.

Skip the bun, fries, and soda pop next time you find yourself trapped inside a fast food chain. Whether it’s on their menu or not, all restaurants will gladly tweak their recipes for your low carb preferences. And if they don’t, do you really want to give them your business?

Replace cooking oils with coconut oil, which works well even on high heat.

An easy way to introduce more healthy fats into your diet is to cook with coconut oil. Coconut oil is stable in high heat, has a mild to neutral flavor, and is great for you! You can find coconut oil with no coconut flavor at all at most grocery stores.

Your mileage may vary

In the world of health and nutrition we are all unique. It is up to each of us to discover what works well for ourselves and makes us feel good. Try adding more healthy fats into your diet and analyze how they affect your well-being. We can all reach our highest potential with the proper lifestyle and diet.

If you have anything else to add or questions to ask, please comment or reach out to us directly!