The High Fat Diet and Its Effects On The Human Body

The high fat diet (that those of us who are over 50 grew up on) causes well-known health problems that have been publicised ad nauseam. Cardiovascular disease, elevated cholesterol, cancer, diabetes, multiple sclerosis, arthritis, premenstrual syndrome, and other degenerative diseases show associations to the Western high fat diet where over 40% Of calories came from processed and hard fats.

The swing to the other extreme - the low fat or no fat diets that are the rage today - also produce health problems. Low fat or no fat diets lead to stunted growth in children, produce dry skin and low energy levels, lead to high cholesterol and high triglycerides, sometimes compromise immune function, enhance the likelihood of producing leaky gut and allergies and lower testosterone production. Body builders on low fat diets fail to get the gains they strive for, because testosterone is required for muscle development. Good fats improve the functions of testosterone and other hormones.

Low fat products are a bad joke. They usually taste like cardboard (fats enhance the tastes of foods), so to give them taste, manufacturers load them with sugar, which our body turns into the same hard (saturated) fats, the avoidance of which was the reason for making the low fat foods in the first place!

Killer Fats and the Human Body

Several commercially applied oil processing methods turn fats that heal into fats that kill. We know three main categories of such processes.

The first, Hydrogenation, turns liquid oils into cheap, plastic, spreadable, shelf-stable fats. This process changes essential fatty acids (whose vital functions we shall discuss a little later) and other fatty acids into twisted molecules called trans-fatty acids that have never existed in nature in the forms present in margarines, shortenings, shortening oils, partially hydrogenated vegetable oils, and vegetable shortenings.

Research studies show that trans-fatty acids:

* raise the level of Lp(a), the strongest known risk factor for cardiovascular disease

* change the way our immune system works

* decrease testosterone, increase abnormal sperm, and interfere with pregnant animals

* correlate with low birth weight in human babies

* interfere with blood insulin function

* interfere with liver enzymes necessary for detoxification (the cytochrome P450 system)

* change the fluidity of cell membranes, making them harder, slowing down their reactions, lowering cell vitality, and making cell membranes more leaky (changing membrane permeability)

* change the way our fat cells work

* make platelets more sticky

* increase cholesterol, increase LDL (bad) cholesterol, and lower HDL (good) cholesterQI

* interfere with the functions of the substances from fats the essential fatty acids- that we require to be healthy
We find trans-fatty acids (hydrogenated or partially hydrogenated oils) widespread in our foods: in breads, cakes, cookies, crackers, digestive biscuits, pancake mixes, breakfast cereals, instant soups, chocolate bars, desserts, fruit cakes, crisps, convenience and junk foods, peanuts and peanut butter. Even in the croutons used to make your healthy Caesar salad!

What research suggests they do in the body implies that they ought to be absent from the food supply of everyone interested in health. The law prohibits trans-fatty acids from being used in baby foods. Do they know something they're not quite telling?

The second is frying. Research consistently shows that fried fats cause cancer and hardening of the arteries. When we fry food, we burn it. Obviously, we change the chemistry of oil molecules when we fry oils into smoke. The chemically changed molecules do not fit precisely into the precise biochemical architecture of our body. They therefore interfere with how our cells function, which we experience as problems in health.

We developed within a very ancient and very wise natural system that resulted from a few billion years of learning to adapt to the natural environment.

For most of the time, nature never contained fried foods. Our bodies never needed to develop means for metabolising scorched molecules. Cancer and hardened arteries are the result of failure - the body's inability - to deal with these altered molecules.

Research recently showed that cooks who spend time wok or pan-frying have a higher incidence of lung cancer.

The oils best for our health, those richest in the essential fatty acids, become most toxic when fried. But frying temperatures also damage hard, stable, saturated tropical fats and butter.

The best oil for frying? If health is what we want, water is the only oil appropriate for frying. We're back to steaming our foods.

We coined a crude slogan to help remember the dangers of fried, over-heated foods. From the point of view of health, this slogan applies to all browned (burned) foods: toasted, roasted, baked, broiled, and barbecued. The brown part of the food is toxic. The inner part of the food is fine. The slogan: 'if you've turned it brown, it belongs in the toilet!' One of my friends came up with the rhyme: 'If it's brown, flush it down.'

Thirdly, refining and deodorising produces colourless, odourless, tasteless, and almost completely nutritionless oils, or for want of a better expression, 'white' oils, the equivalent of white sugar and white flour, products from which most of the nutrients required for human health have been removed.

Except for virgin (green) olive oils, which remain unrefined and undeodorised, all oils that line supermarket shelves have gone through processing where they are treated by several harsh processes. They are:

* Degummed - treated with Drano (sodium hydroxide, an extremely corrosive alkali used to clean clogged kitchen drains
* Refined - treated with window cleaning (phosphoric) acid, an extremely corrosive acid
* Bleached with bleaching clays are used. Bleaching produces rancidity (peroxides) which imparts unpleasant odours and tastes to oils
* Deodorised - heated to above frying temperatures to remove the peroxides produced by bleaching. The taste becomes less objectionable, but other chemical changes, tasteless but toxic, take place at those high temperatures.

During these processes, some (perhaps 0.5% to 1.0%) of the fatty acid molecules are changed chemically into toxic molecules that interfere with normal biochemical interactions between molecules necessary for normal cell functions, thus interfering with health.

At 1% damaged molecules, a tablespoon (5ml) of cooking oil contains about 100,000 toxic molecules for every one of the 70 trillion cells in your body. If the oil is subsequently fried the number of toxic molecules present may be three to ten times higher.

Minor ingredients (phytochemicals) that make up about 2% of most oils (hence the term 'minor') but have major benefits on health, are removed.

Some of the essential fatty acid molecules are destroyed. At least one study suggests that when oils are heated above 150 degrees C or 300 degrees F, they change from protective against mutations to mutation causing. We can only speculate with concern on the damage to future generations that fried oils may cause, and on the possibility of their involvement in the mutations that lead to the new and incurable genetic conditions that are being discovered more and more frequently in young children.

To summarise, hydrogenating, frying (overheating) and deodorising are the three main processes that turn heating fats into killing fats.

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