Fat provides energy, produces certain hormones, insulates
us from cold, and makes up cellular membranes. It is the primary source of fuel for the muscles, including the heart.Fats have gotten a bad rap in our society. Low-fat diets have been the rage for years, promising weight-loss and improved health. But this line of thinking has contributed to yo-yo dieting, heart disease, fibromyagia, chronic fatigue, and type-2 diabetes.
In fact, researchers at the National Institute of Health have recently shown that while our consumption of fat and cholesterol have drastically declined over the last several years, we’ve actually gained an average of ten pounds per person.Statistics show that during the years between 1960 and 1980, one-quarter of the population was overweight. But that number has grown to 60% of the population. Researchers and health officials are still scratching their heads over these statistics. It is now estimated that , over 80% of the U.S. population will be overweight in the near future. The “fat-free” mantra has proven to be the most misguided medical blunder since bloodletting.
The fear of fat and its derivative, cholesterol, has spawned a multibillion dollar industry of low-fat foods, but it’s not turning the tide. We trust medical intervention, but drugs that lower fats and cholesterol have been shown to increase the risk of certain cancers. Dieters dutifully avoid fat, but hidden sugars in our processed foods are being turned into fat right under our noses (and our belts!).
The truth is that fat is in all natural foods. It is an essential nutrient that plays a vital role in our overall health. We can’t live without fat in our diet. Fat provides over twice the amount of energy of carbohydrates and 70% of the energy needed just to keep the body warm. Fats make up 70% of the brain. The fat insulates the brain cells and allows the neurotransmitters to communicate with one another.
Cholesterol and fats make up each and every cell. Cholesterol helps keep cell membranes permeable, and this permeability allows good nutrients in and toxic waste products out. Over 8% of the brain’s solid matter is made up of cholesterol, and cholesterol is essential for proper brain function and normalized neurotransmitters such as serotonin.
A deficiency in cholesterol can result in mood disorders including depression, anxiety, irritability, and fibro-fog. Cholesterol is also involved in the production of such essential hormones as DHEA, testosterone, estradiol, progesterone, and cortisol.Because it is essential to our very survival, cholesterol is manufactured by the body on a daily basis. Eliminating cholesterol from our diet only triggers the body to make more!
What about cholesterol and heart disease?Believe it or not, your body needs cholesterol. It’s not some foreign element to be avoided. It’s a valuable nutrient.
Consider these facts about cholesterol, taken from my book Heart Disease: What Your Doctor Won’t Tell You.Cholesterol is so important that the body manufactures 800-1500 mg. each day. This is about twice as much as you take in through diet! Cholesterol and other fats are the very building blocks that make up each and every cell. Cholesterol is an important fat that helps keep cell membranes permeable, allowing good nutrients to get in and toxic waste products to get out. Cholesterol makes the bile salts required for the digestion of fat.
Cholesterol is the precursor to vitamin D an important hormone in reducing pain associated with fibromyalgia. Cholesterol is essential in proper hormone production. Testosterone, dehydroepiandrosterone (DHEA), progesterone, estradiol, and cortisol, all essential for optimal health and in reducing fibromyalgia symptoms and are all made from cholesterol.
Fats make up 70% of the brain, and over 8% of the brain’s solid matter is made up of cholesterol. The fat and cholesterol insulates brain cells and allows for proper functioning of neurotransmitters.
Cholesterol levels have been repeatedly linked to decreased brain function, including depression. Those with low cholesterol are three times more likely to suffer from depression as normal adults. The British Medical Journal has published research showing that the lower the cholesterol, the more severe the depression.
Low cholesterol levels are also linked to an increased risk of suicide. One study, reported in the British Medical Journal, showed that of the 300 people studied who had committed suicide, all had low cholesterol levels. Another study reveals that men whose cholesterol levels are lowered through the use of prescription lipid-lowering medications double their chances of suicide. Low cholesterol (below 180) has been linked to an increased risk for heart attack. Yes, you read this correctly. Low cholesterol increases the risk of a heart attack.