Every client I have ever seen does have some degree of ‘fat phobia’ going on. Totally understandable. After all, Big Food has profited from selling us low fat, sugar and preservative laden products for the last 40 years and through clever advertising & manipulation of data, they have convinced us that this is the way to true health. Enough ranting on that one. Please keep in mind that this information has now well and truly been put in its rightful place and fats are being recognised for their importance in the diet. Remember the latest statement from the American association of Nutrition and Dietetics included this point: “It is also noteworthy that not a single study included in the review for cardiovascular disease is reported to have identified saturated fat as having an unfavourable association with cardiovascular disease.”
One of the concerns that that comes up often is around cholesterol, specifically that serum cholesterol will rise with more dietary cholesterol in the diet. This topic really warrants a longer explanation, but I begin by reminding clients that cholesterol is critical in the body. If we had none of it, we would be dead. It has protective properties, it is involved with immunity, it fights off infections, its essential for all our hormones, we need it to create vitamin D and it even assists with serotonin levels in the brain. Too much of anything of course can always be a bad thing, but first let’s acknowledge that we need it and it doesn’t deserve to be completely vilified. Secondly, it is really important to understand that we have inbuilt mechanisms within our body to regulate our own cholesterol levels; we have mechanisms like this to regulate all essential nutrients and processes. Each and every one of us is able to make cholesterol within the body when it is needed. The other way we can get cholesterol is of course through diet. However, eating dietary cholesterol doesn’t necessarily drive up cholesterol markers, it simply gives the body a bit of a break because it doesn’t have to produce as much on its own. Here’s a direct quote extracted from one of my favourite nutrition books ‘Cholesterol Clarity, (p30).’
“We have a certain need for cholesterol and we regulate that need fairly tightly. So if we eat a lot of cholesterol, our bodies make less of it; if we eat less cholesterol, our bodies make more of it. In most people, the majority of cholesterol that is circulating in their blood is made by their own bodies. The amount of cholesterol containing foods they eat isn’t going to have a big impact on their blood cholesterol levels. It can vary from person to person, but in general cholesterol in your diet is never the major determinant of cholesterol levels in the blood or in the body.” Dr Chris Masterjon
There are a couple of ways to manipulate diet in order to bring down dangerously high triglyceride levels and elevated small dense LDL cholesterol. However, reducing natural and anti-inflammatory fats in the diet is not one of them. In my experience treating clients, dietary changes that include eating more fat but less highly refined carbohydrates, their cholesterol markers have shown improvement. I see this on paper in front of me, in black and white when they bring in their blood tests and their levels are down. In addition, please remember that the most dangerous state of health is high inflammation within the body. Inflammation leads to heart disease, arterial plaque build up and is now even being linked with mood disorders and depression. Persistent inflammation results from ‘yo yoing’ sugar levels in the body. This sugar roller-coaster effect is precisely what occurs on a low fat diet rich in starchy and sugary carbohydrates and artificial trans fats. You may need to catch up on my article on Fats and Oils if I just lost you.
Elevated cholesterol happens for a reason. It might not be your diet, it may be the sign of an infection. One of the most common types of infection that can elevate cholesterol levels is in the mouth, so have your teeth checked regularly and ensure your dental hygiene is up to scratch. In addition, treat the high cholesterol of course, but find out the reason for it and always aim to treat the cause in addition to the symptom. The natural way of the body is to be in balance. If something is not being self regulated there is a reason for that and we need to determine it and change our environment in some way accordingly.
Please consult with a Medical Doctor as well as a Nutritionist or similar who can manipulate diet and lifestyle in a healthy way to achieve optimal results.