Fat: What is it?

Would you like to know “the skinny” on fat?? Well, then, are you in luck today! There is a lot of information about fats in the popular press these days. It is mostly accurate in so far as it goes, but it usually lacks the big picture. And the big picture (like the truth) will set you free—or at least make you healthier.

I really was a kid once (like, in the early days of civilization when most TV’s and even some movies were black and white….) in those venerable (ie. ancient) times we were all still living (and dying) on “meat and potatoes”. Now we hear all the time about Omega 3 fish oils and Omega 6 (vegetable and nut) oils, long-chain fatty acids (like the “spare tire” around our waists or the marbling in a good steak), and medium chain fatty acids (like coconut oils). What should we do with all of these mysterious fats? Should we shun them all and live like those poor deluded people in Seattle???

No, we don’t have to go that far to be healthy!

The key to health and fats is BALANCE!! I talk about this all the time in response to health fads and claims.

So here are the facts!

It is now believed that the human “fat diet” evolved to be optimal with a ratio of omega 3 (fish, krill) and omega 6 fatty acids (vegetable oil, nuts) of about 1 to 1 (equal parts of both in the diet). The ideal ratio seems to be about 4 to 1, omega 6’s to omega 3’s. Now, however, in many western diets that ratio is over 30/1. This is an inflammatory ratio. Our diets are very high in fried foods, margarine, salad dressings, oils, etc. This leads all of our tissues towards inflammation. It is hugely involved in inflamed artery linings that then clog up with cholesterol plaque, joints that become arthritic at early ages, skin that looks old before its time, and even brain tissue that declines into Alzheimer’s dementia. One of my earlier blogs was about inflammation and vascular disease. In it I made the point that modern heart disease is not a cholesterol problem, it is an inflammation problem! Much of that is related to the toxic environment we humans now inhabit. And much of that bad environment is how we eat.

For over 10 years I have been taking a statin drug, Crestor, to keep my cholesterol down. The prevailing wisdom at the time was lower cholesterol is always better. Three months ago, after attending the American Functional Medicine Association meetings in Atlanta, I stopped my Crestor and started taking Omega 3 fish oils each morning. My joints and muscles and energy levels have all improved. Last week I checked my lipid panel; after 3 months on Omega 3’s, it is BETTER than it was on Crestor!

When I was growing up a common phrase uttered by dopers before they doped was “better living through chemistry!” But I think there is much better living going back to natural, utilizing in balance what God has given us. That is what we try to do here at Upper Valley Family Practice and Urgent Care. We are an Urgent Care so we are capable and happy to fix your “Bo-Bo’s” and acute illnesses. But we are really interested in prevention of disease through proper and simple prevention, through choosing to live as nature intended. If that sounds “unscientific”, then I haven’t explained it well enough. It is MORE scientific and better proven at this point. That’s why we like it for our patient “family”.

Next week I will talk about promising new research on the positive role of medium chain fatty acids (coconut oil) in preventing and treating Parkinson’s disease and Alzheimer’s dementia.

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