6 March 2017

Why is it people are still happy to ply their bodies with sugar and sweeteners (often misguidedly selecting low calorie alternative foods) but are fearful of dietary fat?

Simple sugars have been shown to be involved in a wide range of disorders such as diabetes, obesity, heart disease and even cancer. The spike in blood sugar after eating simple sugars leads to a surge in insulin, which causes the sugars to be absorbed and stored in the body (Often as fat), meaning constant fluctuations in blood sugar levels and energy crashes along with potential weight gain. Not good.

Artificial sweeteners are used as they provide the sweet taste people often desire but with no (or few) calories. The trouble is artificial sweeteners, such as Aspartame, are also implicated in causing illnesses such as diabetes and other metabolic disorders along with a whole host of other health problems. As these substances are artificial our bodies do not have a proper mechanism for digesting them as they have never before been encountered in evolution. Sweeteners also keep alive the “sweet tooth” cravings and so continue the quest for sugar/sweet foods, drive hunger cravings and may be addictive themselves.

Fat is not a nutrient to be feared, it is essential and should be embraced. The quality of the nutrient, as ever, has a profound influence on how it affects the body and there are several different types to be considered although not all of this will be discussed here.
• Fats are highly nutritious and the full range of high quality fats should be included in our diet.
• Dietary fat is necessary for the absorption of many vitamins as fat soluble vitamins will not enter the body through other mediums.
• Our cell membranes are made of fat (cholesterol) and are in constant need of repair and regeneration, without dietary fat this process cannot happen and our cells will die.
• Fat also has the ability to stimulate specific hormones (Leptin) which are involved in shutting off hunger and inducing a feeling of satiety, whereas sugars interaction with the hormone ghrelin does not have the same effect and often prolongs hunger.

Saturated Fat - One final thought for you to ponder is that of saturated fat. It seems saturated fat has the worst reputation of all, but is this justified? Remembering that quality is paramount, then saturated fat is not bad for us. Saturated fat and its cholesterol, has been stigmatised and demonised for many years, however good quality saturated fat is essential in a healthy diet. Remember vitamin transport, cell membrane growth and repair and satiety. It is oxidised cholesterol that causes problems. This occurs during processing so the more processing food undergoes, the worse the problem.

Keeping the meat simple such as a steak or dicing meat yourself avoids unnecessary processing, oxidation and unwanted additives. Keeping food sealed so it is not exposed to the air helps ensure minimal oxidation and eating foods naturally preserved this way such as eggs and avocado gives great peace of mind.

What’s the best source of fat to cook in? No not olive oil. The trouble with other sources of fats/oils is that when they get hot they produce free radicals which zip around the body damaging cells and potentially leading to all sorts of health problems (free radicals will always happen but too many will cause issues and these little blighters are one reason why it’s so important to have plenty of anti-oxidants in the diet). Saturated fats are much more heat stable and therefore do not produce free radicals to the same degree making them the best for cooking. Try coconut oil next time you’re reaching for cooking oil.