Much has been said about the fats that kill. They are associated with deaths from cardiovascular disease (43%), cancer (23%), diabetes (2%), and other degenerative diseases that kill 68% of Western populations. Only a 100 years ago, this was rare indicating that these deaths are from diseases of lifestyle, not genetics.
The problem with our focus on the killer fats is that it is an inadequate focus. If we were to remove all bad fats from our diet, and do it perfectly (100%) we would still die if we did not bring in and optimize the fats that heal. This is because we cannot live without the fats that heal, and removing the bad fats makes no guarantee of obtaining the good ones.
The story of the fats that heal, the good fats, the essential fatty acids is therefore the more interesting and important story by far. To bring the neglected good fats into our diet, we must identify their sources, their functions, and the signs of their deficiency.
What are the good (essential) fats?
Certain fats are defined as ‘essential’ because:
1. The body cannot make them;
2. They are required for normal cell, tissue, gland, and organ function, for health, and for life;
3. They must be provided from outside the body, through food or supplements;
4. They can come only from fats (hence fat-free diets cannot supply them);
5. Their absence from the diet will eventually kill;
6. Deficiency results in progressive deterioration, can lead to death;
7. Return of essential fatty acids to a deficient diet reverses the symptoms of deficiency and results in a return to health.
What happens when we don’t get enough good fats?
The short answer is: Every part of the body gradually deteriorates and falls apart. No cell, tissue, gland, or organ can function normally without them. Here is a longer list:
* Dry skin
* Low energy levels
* Brittle hair and hair loss
* Poor nail growth
* Deterioration of liver and kidneys
* Behavioral changes due to brain deterioration
* Glands dry up
* Immune system deteriorates, resulting in more infections, poorer wound healing, and increased cancer
* Digestion problems, inflammation, bloating, allergies, autoimmune conditions
* Bone mineral loss
* Reproductive failure: sterility in males and miscarriage in females
* Retarded growth of children
* Tingling in arms and legs due to nerve deterioration
* Vision and learning problems
* Insulin resistance
* Increased risk of overweight
* Increased cancer risk
* Increased cardiovascular risk
* Decreased ability to cope with stress
* In mental illness, increased symptoms
* Decreased lung function
* Decreased tissue oxidation
What are the functions of essential fatty acids?
Essential fatty acids have many functions throughout the body. They are involved in:
* Energy production. In a study with athletes in Denmark, it was shown that within one month of giving athletes one tablespoon per 50 pounds of body weight per day of an oil blend with an Omega-3: Omega-6 ratio of 2:1, stamina increased by up to 40 or even 60%. Athletes could exercise longer before reaching exhaustion, recovered more quickly from fatigue, could exercise more often without over-training, healed quicker from injuries, built muscle faster, and had less joint pain.
Energy improvement is also seen in non-athletes and older people. The EFA blend also improves mental stamina.
* Brain Function. In work with the blended oil, consistent improvements were seen in brain function, and research with EFAs from other sources has also shown brain benefits. Among these are elevated mood, lifted depression, increased calmness, better handling of stress, less hyperactivity, better focus, better mental processing, faster learning, increased intelligence, better concentration, and improved motor coordination.
Among the mentally ill, EFAs can decrease hallucinations in schizophrenics, elevate mood, lift depression, improve symptoms in bipolar and obsessive-compulsive disorder, and improve brain function in Alzheimer’s disease and autism.
EFAs are also required for vision.
* Skin, Hair, and Nails. EFAs are required for healthy skin and hair, and are required for normal nail growth. They moisturize skin and prevent dryness.
* Cancer. Omega-3 EFAs may lower cancer risk.
* Cardiovascular Disease (CVD). Omega 3 can decrease most CVD risk factors, including high triglycerides (blood fats), blood pressure, platelet stickiness, fibrinogen, and lipoprotein(a). N-3 also keep the inside of our arteries smooth. N-3 and n-6 keep the heart beat regular.
* Diabetes. EFAs are required for insulin function. Omega-3 make diabetics more insulin-sensitive.
* Weight Management. Omega-6 slightly and Omega-3 more effectively help reduce fat production in the body. They also increase fat burning and heat production in the body, and shift the body from burning glucose to burning fats. Saturated, monounsaturated, and trans- fatty acids do not help to manage weight. Sugar triggers increased fat production in the body. Starch can also lead to overweight.
* Digestion. EFAs improve gut integrity, decrease gut inflammation, and decrease ‘leaky gut’ that can lead to allergies.
* Allergies. EFAs reduce symptoms of allergies. They work best if digestive enzymes rich in protein-digesting protease are also used.
* Inflammation. Omega-3 reduce inflammation. Digestive enzymes are also helpful.
* Autoimmune Conditions. Omega-3 dampen the over-response of the immune system in autoimmune conditions. Again, enzymes are also helpful.
* Injury. EFAs speed the healing of injuries.
* Bone Minerals. Omega 3 oils improve bone mineral retention, thereby inhibiting the development of osteoporosis.
* Stress. EFAs, by optimizing serotonin production, improve response to stress. People report feeling calmer, getting stressed less easily, dealing with stressful situations more calmly, and losing their temper less often.
* Sleep. EFAs improve sleep in some people.
* Hormones. EFAs improve hormone functions. Hormone levels may decrease, yet the effects of hormones remain normal. EFAs thereby ease the work load of glands.
* Organs. EFAs are required for liver and kidney function.
* Reproduction. EFAs are required for sperm formation, the female cycle, and pregnancy.