Thursday, February 25, 2016

FULL-Fat Diet

Dear Readers,

This post was written by Ami Ingram, MD, 
the newest addition to the Vaughan Integrative Medicine (VIM) team. 

- Dr. Vaughan

Americans are getting fatter. According to The State of Obesity, obesity rates for adults more than doubled from 1960 to 2012. The average American adult is 24 pounds heavier today than in 1960! A 2012 study – the most recent statistics available – indicated that more than two-thirds of the American adult population were overweight or obese. The same study showed that more than 30% of children were also overweight. Along with higher rates of obesity come higher rates of heart attacks, strokes, diabetes, and dementia. This increased rate of obesity is true despite years of promotion of a LOW FAT DIET. For 30 years we have been eating products labeled low fat because the food industry and health care industry have been telling us, “Eating fat makes you fat.” In truth, it is not eating fat that makes us overweight and unhealthy; it is when we eat certain kinds of fats, along with carbohydrates and sugar, that we end up overweight and unhealthy. We need fats and fatty acids for our bodies to work properly – so we have to make sure we choose types of fats that promote these functions.

The campaign against fat has had tremendous success. In the effort to avoid eating fats, many people have focused their grocery shopping on buying products that are marketed as low fat, reduced fat, and fat-free. Many low fat, reduced fat, and fat-free food options are overly processed and loaded with refined sugar and carbohydrates (which are also broken down into sugar). Sugar enters the blood, stimulating insulin release. Insulin tells the body to take sugar out of the blood and store it in muscle, liver and fat cells for use as energy when needed. When we consume high carbohydrate, high sugar foods and beverages throughout the day, our insulin levels remain elevated and the excess sugar is converted into triglycerides. Triglycerides are stored for energy for times when we are not eating, for example at night when we are sleeping. As the body continues to convert sugar into triglycerides, they are stored in ever enlarging fat cells and in the liver causing fatty liver disease. This is why a diet high in carbohydrates and refined sugar leads to being overweight.

When we consume healthy fats, our body breaks them down into fatty acids which are immediately used for energy. Fat has three times the energy of sugar and stays in the blood longer causing you to feel satisfied so you don’t get hungry for a longer period of time. Starting your day with healthy fats keeps you from getting hungry in the late morning and helps your brain work better. The brain is sixty percent fat; each nerve and brain cell is covered and protected by fat. Fat is a critical energy source for the brain and is essential for proper brain development, so children especially need healthy fat. Every cell in our body has a fatty or lipid layer that regulates nutrients going into the cell and toxins going out of the cell. The building blocks of hormones, such as estrogen and testosterone come from fat. Your body cannot make Vitamin D and Vitamin A or absorb calcium without fat.

Dietary fats come from both plants and animals. Based on their structure, fats are described as saturated, mono-unsaturated, poly-unsaturated, and trans fats. Nutritionists suggest we get 20 to 35 percent of our required calories from fat. An average, moderately active adult, trying to maintain their weight, would consume about 2,000 calories a day. That person would optimally have 40 to 70 grams of fat a day. Those fats ideally would be 1/3 or less from healthy saturated fat, 1/3 or more from mono-unsaturated fat and 1/3 or more from poly-unsaturated fats. TRANS-FATS are unhealthy and should be avoided. POLY-UNSATURATED FATS can be classified as omega 3, omega 6 and omega 9. Omega 3 and omega 6 are essential fats that we must get from food. Our Western diet provides an abundance of omega 6 fatty acid in processed oils, as well as naturally in nuts and seeds and the oils from them. Omega 6 fatty acids promote clotting, cell proliferation and immune system support whereas Omega 3 fatty acids are anti-inflammatory, working opposite of Omega 6 fatty acids. The body needs both in the correct ratio, which is about 2 - 4 Omega 6 to 1 Omega 3. Our modern diet provides 15:1 to 22:1 ratio of Omega 6 to Omega 3! Safflower and Cottonseed oil are high in poly-unsaturated fats, have a higher ratio of Omega 6, and should be limited. Macadamia nuts and oil have a ratio of 1 omega 6 to 1 omega 3 and are highly recommended.

There has been controversy about the health benefits of SATURATED FATS, which are solid at room temperature. What matters is the source of the saturated fat. Lard and Butter are examples saturated fat that when conventionally raised, are considered unhealthy. However, when meat, eggs and dairy come from organic, grass fed animals, they provide healthy saturated fats as well as other nutrients. Butter and Ghee from pasture-raised/grass fed animals contain nutrients such as calcium and Vitamin K2, which helps build strong bones. Ghee is butter that has the lactose and casein removed and is usually safe for those sensitive to those components. Coconut oil is gaining popularity as a saturated fat and is good for cooking because it is stable at higher temperatures and has a nutty flavor. Coconut oil has antimicrobial and antifungal properties and is easy to digest. Some people add it to coffee, use it to make chocolate candy, or spread it on toast to help sustain energy for the brain.

When buying coconut oil and other oils, look for one that is not heated and does not have chemicals added for extraction. Avoid oil that is hydrogenated or partially hydrogenated. In general cold press, raw, unrefined products are healthier and have a mild coconut smell and flavor.

MONOUNSATURATED fats are liquid at room temperature and are healthy but not recommended for cooking because they become oxidized and lose beneficial properties. They are best added to food after it has been cooked or prepared. Olive oil is an example of monounsaturated fat that is perfect for drizzling on salad, steamed vegetables or cooked meat. Avocados and macadamia nuts have monounsaturated fats and their oils can be extracted. Avocados are a good source of vitamin E, Vitamin K, B vitamins and fiber as well as healthy fats.

It is important to understand that natural foods are a mix of fats, not 100% one any one kind. For example sesame seed oil is 41 % mono-unsaturated fat, 44% poly-unsaturated fat, and 15 % saturated fat and has a ratio of 137 omega 6 to 1 omega 3. Hemp seed oil is 12% mono-unsaturated fat, 79% poly-unsaturated fat and, 9 % saturated fat and has a ratio of 3 omega 6 to 1 omega 3. Sesame seed oil has an unfavorable omega 6 to omega 1 ratio, but is a good balance of saturated/mono-unsaturated/poly-unsaturated fats. Hemp seed oil is mostly poly-unsaturated fat and has a good omega 6 to omega 3. Both sesame seed and hemp seed oil are recommended.

Most TRANS FATS are man made by hydrogenating liquid oil to make it a solid. This process makes the oil last longer and makes it reusable and inexpensive. Think about the oil used for fast food deep fryers in restaurants, as well as in vegetable shortening and margarine. These are the fats that we want to limit in our diet. Trans fats/ partially hydrogenated oils come from corn, peanut, and canola.

Increasing healthy fats in your diet does not cause cholesterol build-up in arteries, leading to heart attack and stroke. Scientists are learning there is more to “clogged” arteries, atherosclerosis, than cholesterol. One of the factors is the size of the cholesterol or lipid. Smaller lipid particles are more dangerous than large “fluffy” cholesterol particles. To find out the size of particles your doctor can perform a more detailed lipid test called NMR or Advanced lipid profile. One way to make more fluffy lipids is to increase your intake of Omega 3 from fish, flax seed, chia seed, hemp seeds or Omega 3 supplements. It is important to choose a good quality Omega 3, from krill or fish low in toxins, with at least 500 mg of both EPA and DHA.

Don’t be afraid to enjoy fats in your food. Fats are important for functions of your body and brain and help you feel full. Choose foods with healthy fats that also provide nutrients rather than low fat processed foods that are high in carbohydrates.

Recommended fats

  • Extra virgin olive oil
  • Coconut oil
  • Flax seed
  • Macadamia nut
  • Avocado
  • Grass fed meat, ghee or butter
  • Sesame seed
  • Hemp seed
  • Chia seed
  • Omega 3 fish: salmon, mackerel, sardines, anchovies, 

Non-Recommended fats
  • Margarine
  • Corn oil
  • Vegetable oil
  • Canola oil
  • Peanut oil
  • Safflower oil
  • Conventional fed meat, ghee or butter 

Thursday, February 4, 2016

The Big Four

The National Institutes for Health (NIH) recommends these habits to help reduce the risk of heart disease. Help commit yourself to these lifestyle changes by creating written goals or working with an accountability partner until these actions become habits in your life!

1. Get Regular Physical Activity

Most adults should plan for 20-to-30 minutes of moderate-intensity aerobic exercise at least five days a week. Brisk walking, cycling, and swimming are great options. For individuals who are easily bored with the same routine, vary your activities every few days and move your aerobic exercise routine outside when the weather permits. Couple your aerobic exercise with at least two days of strength training that focus on all major muscle groups (legs, hips, back, abdomen, chest, shoulders, and arms).

2. Maintain a Healthy Weight 

While obesity is an epidemic in America, be aware that being either overweight or underweight can significantly increase your chances for heart disease. Talk with your health care provider about what a healthy weight would be for you instead of relying solely on an online Body Mass Index (BMI) calculator. BMI calculators don’t account for age, body type and body fat percentage. Maintaining a healthy weight requires a combination of regular physical activity, making appropriate food choices to meet nutritional needs, and controlling portion sizes. Some general guidelines include having a nutritious breakfast that includes lean protein and healthy fats, avoiding excessive sugar intake, and staying hydrated. Make sure you drink at least half your body weight in ounces of water a day; for example: if you weigh 150 pounds, drink 75 ounces of water daily (150 ÷2 = 75). For every caffeinated beverage you drink, add another 8 ounces of water. A physician or dietician can help you with a plan that will support you achieving an optimal weight for your best health.

3. Avoid Smoking

According to the NIH, tobacco smoke harms nearly every organ in the body. Specifically, the chemicals in tobacco smoke damage blood cells, damage the function of the heart, and the structure and function of blood vessels. Smoking significantly increases the risk of plaque building up on arterial walls, causing heart disease. There are lots of resources available to assist people who desire to quit cigarette smoking. Your health care provider can help you identify the right resources for you if quitting is a priority.
Exposure to secondhand smoke is also a significant risk factor. As a non-smoker, protect yourself by asking others to smoke outside and not in a closed vehicle. Also avoid places where smoking is allowed.

4. Eat A Healthy Diet

Choosing healthy meals and snacks is important to avoid heart disease. Eliminating processed foods from your diet and creating meals that focus on brightly colored vegetables and fruits wil lower your risk of heart disease. Incorporate 4 to 6 ounces of lean meat or fish or choose alternate protein sources like beans, eggs, or nuts. Cook using healthy fats like olive or coconut oil and avoid hydrogenated and partially hydrogenated oils. Instead of using iodized table salt spice your foods with fresh herbs and spices or choose Celtic Sea Salt or pink Himalayan Salt; these salts have essential minerals that can actually help regulate blood pressure unlike regular table salt. Eliminate processed sugars and artificial sweeteners as much as possible from your diet.