Tuesday, June 4, 2013

Why Lowfat Diets Might Not Be As Healthy As You Think

Practically every grocery store you walk into advertises things to the "health conscious", and at the peak of their advertising campaign is pushing the LOWFAT label. Lowfat have less calories, they say. Lowfat prevents heart disease, they say. But is lowfat really healthier? 

Fat in food is vital for bodily function for cell repair and growth, brain and organ development and protection, moisture for skin, hair and nails, and regulating fat soluble vitamins.  Of course, too much of anything is harmful, but as is too little. 

One major problem with lowfat foods, is that the fat is replaced with sugars, carbohydrates, and fillers. You might put less calories from fat into your body by consuming low-fat foods, but you end up skyrocketing your bloodsugar because carbohydrates were added to the food to replace the fat. Fat can act as a bloodsugar regulator by causing starches to take longer to absorb. Bread for example, takes longer to be used by the body when topped with butter or olive oil and causes less of a sugar spike than if the bread was just eaten on its own. 

Fat in food also tells your body that it is satisfied and full. And thus, taking most or all of the natural fat out of a food can lead to overeating. The hormone the body secretes upon fat consumption, cholecystokinin, will curb hunger and cause the brain to think you are full. This way, you are less likely to overcompensate at other meals.

Additionally, lowfat milk can also actually contribute to osteoporosis. Everyone knows you drink milk for the calcium which strengthens bones, right? Upon consumption, the body must use bone mass to compensate for the high acidity of the food. This pulls minerals out of the bones to help the body re-establish its pH levels, which can cause decreases in bone mass. Of course, small quantities will not have this effect, but if you rely on lowfat dairy products as your sole source of calcium for osteoporosis prevention, you might need to reconsider. Try eating spinach, collard greens, salmon, sesame/chia/sunflower seeds, quinoa, brocolli, or white beans for alternative calcium sources. 

Politically, encouraging lowfat dairy product consumption is profitable for dairy companies, as it is cheaper to skim the fat off the milk, selling the milk without the fat/cream and using the cream for other dairy products to sell.

Your body also does not know how to properly absorb the fat in "reduced fat" foods. When fat cells are altered, the body processes them differently and thus you do not always reap the health benefits from the fat.

Another benefit and important function of fat in food is for the assimilation of fat-soluble vitamins. Vitamins A, D, E, and K are fat-soluble and therefore require fat to be absorbed (and stored) properly, as opposed to the water soluble vitamins which the body absorbs into the intestines and then are dissolved into the bloodstream. Fat-soluble vitamins are stored in fatty tissues and the liver for current and future use. If fat-soluble vitamins are consumed without food that contains fat, the vitamins aren't assimilated and used by the body, and are rendered useless. Thus, fat in the diet is very important for the absorption of proper vitamins and nutrients.
In conclusion, avoiding low-fat products is important to avoid added sugars, fillers, artificial flavorings, and metabolism and hormone altering chemicals. God knew what He was doing when He put fat in food! Of course, a balanced diet is always important so avoid packaged foods and sugar as much as possible, and fill your plate with fresh vegetables. 

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