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Fat Hysteria - Part 1

Fat. Fat free, low fat, high fat, good fats, bad fats, omega 3’s, omega 6’s. It’s easy to get confused on what’s good, what’s bad, and what is right for you. Athletes are always looking for ways to improve their performance and proper food intake is a major component to help increase athletic performance. All athletes are different, and with the growing list of fad diets out there it becomes hard to know where to start and how to effectively implement a diet that’s right for your situation. Whether you’re a “hard gainer” and have a hard time putting weight on or you’re an endurance athlete looking for optimal energy stores over a prolonged period of time, educating yourself on the basics of nutrition becomes extremely beneficial for your overall health and athletic performance. Below, CORE HEALTH will break down what fats are, types of fat, healthy fat, unhealthy fat, and the different functions of fat.

The goal of this section is to show you that fat can be your friend, not your enemy, and is vital for health, performance, vitality, proper biological function, cellular integrity, etc.

Some of the general functions of fat are:

  • Building blocks of all fats and oils (lipids) in our food and body

  • Main components found in the fat cells of our bodies which is important for energy production and stored energy

  • Main components of membranes that surround our cells and within our cells (phospholipids and membranes)

  • Play key roles in the construction and maintenance of all healthy cells

Different Types of Fats

Type 1 – Saturated Fat

  • Simplest of all fatty acids

  • Have a higher melting point because they consist of sticky molecules (solid at room temperature)

  • Consist of short, medium, and long fatty acids

  • Energy production is their main health benefit

  • Loaded with hydrogen molecules (can effect the pH balance of our bodies. Imbalance allows more chance of unhealthy organisms to flourish, damages tissue, and compromises the immune system.)

  • May impact cellular health, like causing platelets in blood to stick together, aka “sticky blood”

Type 2 – Unsaturated Fat: (Essential Fatty Acids)

  • Melt at lower temperatures, unlike saturated fatty acids

  • Ability to disperse from one cell to another

  • Made up of monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats

  • EFA’s (Essential Fatty Acids)

  • Attract oxygen

  • Allows greater nutrient absorption and cellular detoxification of biological cells (i.e. skin, liver, lungs, intestines, etc).

  • Assist in pH balance of body

  • Production of ATP in the mitochondria of our cells

  • Help maintain healthy nerve, brain, muscle, heart and membrane functions

  • Good for brain cells, nerve endings (synapses), sense organs, adrenal glands, sex glands, and all cells

Type 3 – Triglyceride Fats

  • Main kind of body fat

  • All fats and oils are mixtures of triglycerides

  • Make up 95% of the fat we eat

  • Most of the stored fat we carry in our bodies is composed of TG’s

  • Burn short chain saturated and monounsaturated fats and preserve essential fatty acids for more important structural and metabolic functions in the body

  • Fuel for organs, except the brain which utilizes metabolized glucose for energy

  • Stores in our body’s reserves of EFA’s

  • High blood TG’s can cause health issues (derive from overeating, too many saturated fats, refined sugars and consuming few antioxidants)

  • High TG’s oxidize and damage arteries

  • High TG’s linked to cardiovascular disease and high blood pressure

Type 4 – Phospholipids and Membranes

  • Make up less than 5% of total lipids found in foods and in our body

  • Major structural component of cells and intracellular membranes in all living organisms

  • Forms the skin that surrounds every living cell of all organisms (bacteria, plants, animal and human)

  • Help keep what is outside the cell outside, and what is inside the cell inside

  • Determine what can be pulled into our cells from the outside and what is inside the cell to be pushed out

  • Enable proteins to move freely around the surface of the cell to perform vital functions

  • Store each cell’s supply of EFA’s that assist in cellular activity

  • Help protect cells from foreign invasion since they help store EFA’s that attract oxygen while discouraging bacterial fungi and viruses from causing harm to our cells

The thing about fat is that all these types have their place when it comes to staying healthy and preventing disease. The most important thing is to remember while consuming fats/oils is the source of fat, how much you are consuming of each type, and whether or not you are breaking them down and utilizing them efficiently. This is important because without the proper digestion of fats in the intestinal tract it will lead to a decrease in energy, make the blood and tissues more acidic, and cause many other metabolic issues over time.

This article is for information and is not intended to replace treatment from a primary care physician or psychiatrist. In fact, any time you want to change your nutrition, you should inform your physician of these changes to ensure you will be safe from any adverse reactions.

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