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Big Fat Lies!

Written by Wellness Club on April 9, 2008 – 1:36 pm -

Unlike carbohydrates, fats are an essential macronutrient and also the most misunderstood. The term “fat” actually refers to an entire family of fatty acids, each with very different biological functions. Only two fatty acids are essential, but the way in which all interact with each other plays an important role in how Essential Fatty Acids (EFA’s) are utilized. Deficiencies, excesses or relative deficiencies of EFA’s are now known to have serious health consequences. Because imbalanced dietary fats are strongly associated with many diseases, any diet aiming for optimal health must correct fat intake. A number of books address the importance of EFA’s, also called “Omegas,” but most contain elements of spurious science.

The Myatt Diet dives deeper into the description and prescription for optimizing fat intake than any diet ever before, shattering some widely held but incorrect beliefs about certain fats and setting the record straight on others. Let’s look at some of the Big Fat Lies about fat that no other diet book has correctly explained, including:

TRANS fats are the real villains among dietary fats, interfering with absorption of the Essential Fatty Acids, damaging cell membranes, elevating cholesterol level and altering the way normal cell membranes function. Trans fats are prevalent in the American diet, including many weight loss and “health” diets, but their intake should be drastically minimized for health reasons. In fact, the FDA recently passed a law requiring the amounts of trans fats to be listed separately on food nutrition labels.

Saturated fats, the kind we get from eating steak, butter, cheese and eggs, are NOT unhealthy as they have been portrayed. In fact, they are so important that the human body produces them internally. Dietary saturated fat intake is not only safe but also necessary. Because “sat fats” do not compete with the EFA’s for absorption, do not turn “trans” or rancid, and maintain their chemical composition when heated, they are preferable for frying and high-heat cooking. The old belief that “saturated fats are unhealthy” was actually started many years ago based on some unscientific “science,” the edible oil industry in this country (who magnified the unsavory science in ads to discredit coconut oil and improve sales of domestic oils such as corn and cottonseed), and one wealthy businessman who mistakenly blamed his heart disease on saturated fats and paid for a huge, negative marketing campaign. Saturated fats are not villains, and some sat fats, such as coconut oil, have significant health benefits. (Coconut oil is antimicrobial, antiviral, is excellent for cooking for the reasons listed above, and can be used easily and directly as a calorie source, hence, it “burns” faster and “hotter” than many other types of calories).

Further, the belief that monounsaturated oils (such as olive oil) are healthful and desirable is another Big Fat Lie. In truth, they are the white bread of the fatty acid family. Although better than Trans fats, “monos” serve no purpose in the body, are not essential, compete with the Essential Fatty Acids for utilization, and can turn into Trans fats with cooking.

Omega-6 Fatty Acids are an Essential Fatty Acid (EFA) that needs to be balanced with it’s EFA partner, Omega-3, for optimal health. The American diet contains far too much of this essential fat and most people should not be taking supplements of O-6 oils.

Omega-3 Fatty Acids, the other EFA, must partner with O-6 in a 4:1 to 10:1 ratio. Unfortunately, this EFA is exceptionally low in virtually every diet, from the Standard American Diet to Atkin’s to Pritiken, and especially the USDA food pyramid. No one has told us the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth regarding optimal fat intake until now. On a truly healthful diet (primarily The Myatt Diet), you can have your steak (its “Omega Ratio” makes it far healthier than chicken), lavish butter on your broccoli and bathe your artichoke in mayonnaise, but that dainty olive oil vinaigrette that most would advise should be replaced by a healthier flax oil dressing.

Heart Disease

One of the best ways to help prevent and treat heart disease is to eat a diet low in trans fats and replace foods rich in trans and omega-6 fats with those that are rich in omega-3 fatty acids. EPA and DHA found in fish oil help reduce risk factors for heart disease including high cholesterol and high blood pressure. There is also strong evidence that these substances can help prevent and treat atherosclerosis by inhibiting the development of plaque and blood clots, each of which tends to clog arteries. Studies of heart attack survivors have found that daily omega-3 fatty acid supplements dramatically reduce the risk of death, subsequent heart attacks, and stroke. Similarly, people who eat an ALA-rich diet are less likely to suffer a fatal heart attack.

Stroke

Strong evidence from population-based studies suggests that omega-3 fatty acid intake (primarily from fish), helps protect against stroke caused by plaque buildup and blood clots in the arteries that lead to the brain. In fact, eating at least two servings of fish per week can reduce the risk of stroke by as much as 50%. However, people who eat more than three grams of omega-3 fatty acids per day (equivalent to 3 servings of fish per day) may be at an increased risk for hemorrhagic stroke, a potentially fatal type of stroke in which an artery in the brain leaks or ruptures. Keep in mind that 80% of strokes are due to blood clots, and only 20% are hemorrhagic. Further, it is weak blood vessels, not thin blood, that cause this rarer type of stroke. (Grape seed extract, available in supplement form, helps strengthen blood vessels among its other benefits).

Weight Loss

People who have trouble losing weight when dieting, including those who are resistant to weight loss on a ketogenic (Atkins’) diet, are likely to have a deficiency of Omega-3 fatty Acids OR an imbalanced ratio of O-6 to O-3. Improving this ratio of Essential Fatty Acid intake in the diet, without additional restriction on carbohydrates or calories, is often the key to unlocking this “metabolic resistance.”

Arthritis

Most clinical studies investigating the use of omega-3 fatty acid supplements for inflammatory joint conditions have focused almost entirely on rheumatoid arthritis. Several articles reviewing the research in this area conclude that omega-3 fatty acid supplements reduce tenderness in joints, decrease morning stiffness, and allow for a reduction in the amount of medication needed for people with rheumatoid arthritis.

In addition, laboratory studies suggest that diets rich in omega-3 fatty acids (and low in omega-6 fatty acids) may benefit people with other inflammatory disorders, such as osteoarthritis. In fact, several test tube studies of cartilage-containing cells have found that omega-3 fatty acids decrease inflammation and reduce the activity of enzymes that destroy cartilage. In some participants, symptoms worsened before they improved.

Depression

People who do not get enough omega-3 fatty acids or do not maintain a healthy balance of omega-3 to omega-6 fatty acids in their diet may be at an increased risk for depression. The omega-3 fatty acids are important components of nerve cell membranes. They help nerve cells communicate with each other, which is an essential step in maintaining good mental health.

Levels of omega-3 fatty acids were found to be measurably low and the ratio of omega-6 to omega-3 fatty acids were particularly high in a study of patients hospitalized for depression. In a study of people with depression, those who ate a healthy diet consisting of fatty fish two to three times per week for 5 years experienced a significant reduction in feelings of depression and hostility.

Macular Degeneration

A questionnaire administered to more than 3,000 people over the age of 49 found that those who consumed more fish in their diet were less likely to have macular degeneration (a serious age-related eye condition that can progress to blindness) than those who consumed less fish. Similarly, a study comparing 350 people with macular degeneration to 500 without found that those with a healthy dietary balance of omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids and higher intake of fish in their diets were less likely to have this particular eye disorder. Another larger study confirms that EPA and DHA from fish, four or more times per week, may reduce the risk of developing macular degeneration.

Colon Cancer

Consuming significant amounts of foods rich in omega-3 fatty acids appears to reduce the risk of colorectal cancer. For example, Eskimos, who tend to follow a high fat diet but eat significant amounts of fish rich in omega-3 fatty acids, have a low rate of colorectal cancer. Animal studies and laboratory studies have found that omega-3 fatty acids prevent worsening of colon cancer while omega-6 fatty acids promote the growth of colon tumors. Daily consumption of EPA and DHA also appeared to slow or even reverse the progression of colon cancer in people with early stages of the disease.

Breast Cancer

Women who regularly consume foods rich in omega-3 fatty acids appear to be less likely to develop breast cancer. In addition, the risk of dying from breast cancer may be significantly less for those who eat large quantities of omega-3 from fish and brown kelp seaweed (common in Japan). This is particularly true among women who substitute fish for meat. The balance between omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids appears to play an important role in the development and growth of breast cancer. The tissue levels of women with breast cancer are found to contain much lower levels of Omega-3 fatty acids than breast tissue from healthy controls.

Some researchers hypothesize that omega-3 fatty acids in combination with other nutrients (namely, vitamin C, vitamin E, beta-carotene, selenium, and coenzyme Q10) may prove to be of particular value for preventing and treating breast cancer.

Prostate Cancer

Laboratory and animal studies indicate that omega-3 fatty acids (specifically, DHA and EPA) may inhibit the growth of prostate cancer. Similarly, population based studies of groups of men suggest that a low-fat diet with the addition of omega-3 fatty acids from fish or fish oil help prevent the development of prostate cancer. Like breast cancer, the balance of omega-3 to omega-6 fatty acids appears to be particularly important for reducing the risk of this condition.

Other

Preliminary evidence suggests that omega-3 fatty acids may also prove beneficial in protecting against infections, ulcers, migraine headaches, preterm labor, asthma, emphysema, psoriasis, glaucoma, Lyme disease, lupus, and panic attacks.

Dietary Sources

Fish oils and plant oils are the primary dietary source of omega-3 fatty acids. EPA and DHA are found in cold-water fish such as salmon, mackerel, halibut, sardines, and herring. ALA is found in flaxseeds & flaxseed oil. FISH and FLAX are the best sources. Other oils that contain significant amounts of Omega-3 are not recommended because they are also high in Omega-6. these include: canola (rapeseed) oil, soybeans, soybean oil, pumpkin seeds, pumpkin seed oil, purslane, walnuts, and walnut oil.

Available Forms

In addition to the dietary sources described, EPA and DHA can be taken in the form of fish oil Capsules. Flaxseed, flaxseed oil, and fish oil should be kept refrigerated. Whole flaxseeds should be ground within 1 week of use to ensure maximum potency.

Be sure to buy omega-3 fatty acid supplements made by established companies who certify that their products are free of heavy metals such as mercury.

How to Take It

Flaxseed

1 TBS. ground flax seed per day AND 1 TBS. flax oil per day OR 2 TBS. flax oil per day. (This corresponds to about 12 flax oil Capsules.)

Flaxseed: 1 TBS two to three times per day or 2 to 4 tsp one time per day. Grind before eating and take with lots of water.

EPA and DHA

The adequate daily intake of EPA and DHA for adults should be at least 220 mg of each per day. Two to three servings of fatty fish per week (roughly 1,250 mg EPA and DHA per day) are generally recommended to treat certain health conditions.

Fish oil supplements

3,000 to 4,000 mg standardized fish oils per day. (This amount corresponds to roughly 2 to 3 servings of fatty fish per week.)

Typically, a 1,000 mg fish oil Capsule has 180 mg EPA and 120 mg DHA

ALA. Do NOT use cod liver oil on a regular basis, as it’s high vitamin A & D levels can become toxic. A physician should monitor high intakes of these fat-soluble vitamins. Regular EPA-containing fish oils do not contain vitamin A & D.

Possible Interactions

If you are currently being treated with any of the following medications, you should not use omega-3 fatty acid supplements without first talking to your healthcare provider.

Blood-thinning Medications: Omega-3 fatty acids may increase the blood-thinning effects of aspirin or warfarin. While the combination of aspirin and omega-3 fatty acids may actually be helpful under certain circumstances (such as heart disease), they should only be taken together under the guidance and supervision of a knowledgeable nutritionally-oriented physician.

Cyclosporine: Taking omega-3 fatty acids during cyclosporine therapy may reduce toxic side effects (such as high blood pressure and kidney damage) associated with this medication in transplant patients.

Etretinate and Topical Steroids: The addition of omega-3 fatty acids (specifically EPA) to a drug regimen of etretinate and topical corticosteroids may improve symptoms of psoriasis.

Cholesterol-lowering Medications: Following certain nutritional guidelines, including increasing the amount of omega-3 fatty acids in your diet and reducing the omega-6 to omega-3 ratio, may allow a group of cholesterol lowering medications known as “statins” (such as atorvastatin, lovastatin, and simvastatin) to work more effectively.

Nonsteroidal Anti-inflammatory Drugs (NSAIDs): In an animal study, treatment with omega-3 fatty acids reduced the risk of ulcers from nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs). More research is needed to evaluate whether omega-3 fatty acids would have the same effects in people.
 

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