Fats in Perspective

NH_SizeIt is well documented that after water, fat is the most abundant substance found in the body. Thus we parade social places and spaces with bottled water implying to all and sundry that we keeping up good health by keeping our bodies hydrated. However, we do not make such frequent public displays when we fill our mouths with juicily-greasy foods. The propaganda of the dangers of fat has gotten to us. We feel guilt even when we are enraptured by the goodness of fatty foods in private.

We have so embraced the concept that image is everything that we even force ourselves to confirm to the socially acceptable body sizes without much self-assessment. To some extent we have become out of tune with ourselves and have allowed our minds and health to be infiltrated to the extent that we honestly believe someone else knows what is best for us. Our confusion increases as those persons each convincingly put forward arguments to us on their reasons for suggesting what is best for us. A good place to start would be in trying to understand…overstand…innerstand that the environment in which a person lives and several other factors are to be considered in the diet planning, and use the information to actively management fat deposition in our bodies.

NH_GenesAge – our body’s fat content tends to increase with age if we are busy consuming unrefined foods while negating an active lifestyle.

Gender – statistics indicate that fat account for about 15% of the total weight of males, which also makes them susceptible to cardiovascular diseases. On the other hand, females are predisposed to carry more fat for energy, especially during pregnancy. Thus hormones can be blamed for the extra fat, but prior to and during the early stages of menopause, they also protects women from the cardiovascular effects of fat.

Genes – while most persons suffer from obesity due to calorie-rich diets, there are the rare few who inherited the genes responsible for excessive fat deposition. This is said to occur in less than five persons per one thousand.

Tropical – in the tropics, vegetables, fruits and seeds are the foods easiest to obtain and are therefore favoured. The vegetables and fruits are rich in minerals, vitamins, enzymes, and fiber, but they are low in fats, which are amply obtained from seeds. Folk who lived on the plains became gatherers and farmers. The plains provided lean, low-fat animals and other wild cattle for food in the form of meats, blood, and milk.

Animal-based diet – the original peoples of the North naturally adapted a diet that was animal-based. Organ meats such as liver, eyes, gonads, etc., which were sometimes eaten raw, were preferred to the muscle meats. Nutritional analysis confirms that organ meats are superior to muscle meats, being richer in EFAs, mineral, and vitamins and of equal protein quality.

Plant-based diets – these in exclusivity were unknown traditionally. Insects and their eggs provided animal products, as did the occasional rat or gopher. Dairy products also complemented. So that while greens and grains were the main meal, meat, eggs, fish, milk, or blood were included when such could be had. It should be noted that more than half of the fatty acids of dark green leaves are the essential, triple unsaturated w3 alpha-linolenic acid which captures sunlight energy and stores it in the form of sugars, starches, proteins, and fats. When we eat the plants the stored energy in the molecules is slowly released and empowers our lives.

Fruits – the oils in fruits are similar in fatty acid content to non-green parts of plants. They contain less alpha-linoleic acid, but both EFAs are present. Our body converts fruit sugars into saturated fatty acids if we eat more fruit sugar than we can burn off in immediate activity. Fruits are more likely to fatten us than vegetables.

Eggs – the egg yolk contains about 30% fats and oils by weight, while the egg white is fat-free. About one third of the fats in natural free range eggs is EFAs. It should be noted that fats found in eggs vary in relation to the foods that the chicken eats; foraging as against man-made feeds.

Dairy – fats in dairy products are mostly long-chain saturated and mono-saturated, and short-chain saturated. They contain trans-fatty acids produce from the LNA and LA present in grass by bacteria that live in the stomachs of the cattle.

Seafoods – the warmer the water, the lower the oil content of the same kind of fish. Fish oil content ranges between 1-18%, with shellfish having the lowest amount of oils. Age, seasons, and spawning activities also vary the fat content. All things being equal, fish oil is rich in unsaturated w3 oils which are useful in arthritis, heart disease, and cancer.

Meat concoctions – fats in these products are mostly saturated. Some of them contain refined starch as fillers and sugars for taste, which when converted into fat, adds to the load of saturated fatty acids in our bodies. Thus they are not recommended.

Processed foods – hundreds of processed products on the market contain hidden fats, sugars, starches, and salt. Coloring, flavouring, preservatives, and other additives not found in nature are also liberally added. These can interfere with the delicate work of our biological system because they do not fit the highly specific structural or functional requirements of these systems and pose a detriment to our health.

Having made some headway in understanding our body’s relationship with fat, we can take steps to decrease our consumption of saturated fats from land animal sources as these tend to make our platelets more sticky. To appreciate this let’s remember that our mucosal cells make membrane bags called chylomicrons which transfer their fat to high-density lipoproteins circulating in our blood. Both the HDL and empty chylomicron remnants are taken to our liver which is tasked with making transport vehicles call very low-density lipoproteins. As these things go, the VLDL exchange material with the HDL, or are transformed into other vehicles called low-density lipoprotein which also exchange material with HDL. Our blood then carries VLDL and LDL-containing fats and cholesterol to our cells. This helps us to understand that fat tissue contains more cholesterol than lean body tissue and can therefore increase cholesterol load carried in the low-density lipoprotein fraction in the blood. So we must wisely consider this because the body’s capacity for metabolizing LDL appears to be limited and would require 2.5 days to remove the cholesterol from the blood stream.

The bottom line is that our body knows its needs and signals that intake of food with hunger and stops it with satiety. However, when the natural composition of food is altered by processing, the removal of nutrients, chemical changes, artificial flavours, and additives, our hunger receptors can become confused. This ineffective signal would ensure that our eating gets completely out of proportion and result in obesity. We can choose to blame the refined food industry, or we can take a hard look at nature. Wild animals eating natural foods do not get fat. Thus humans who eat natural foods rich in nutrients are also unlikely to become obese.  Thankfully, consumers are gradually returning to self-observation, and the meat industry is starting to listen to the cries for healthier produce given the spate of heart and artery diseases, strokes, high blood pressure, and other reports being associated with high-fat diets. We have a long way to go, but if we don’t tire of the climb, the meat and refined food industries will eventually adapt to catering to what we say our health needs are.