For decades now, fat has been vilified as the main cause of obesity, heart disease, and a variety of health conditions. More recent research has been casting doubts on those findings, as scientists have now learned that fats aren’t really as bad as everyone’s been making them out to be. In fact, dietary fat is vital for various bodily functions, from brain growth and development, to cell growth and hormonal regulation.
To demonstrate the importance of fats in a healthy diet, let’s take a look at some of the effects of restricting dietary fat intake.
What Happens When You Don’t Have Enough Fat In Your Diet
“Low fat intake is associated with greater & more frequent hunger pangs leading to weight gain, as a result of spikes & dips in blood sugar levels”
When you restrict fat intake, you invariably substitute it with other foods that are loaded with simple carbs. This pattern of low fat and high carb intake begins to cause frequent hunger pangs, as insulin starts to store the extra energy as fat, which leads to a dip in blood sugar levels. Studies now show that adequate fat intake helps lower hunger pangs, while increasing satiety, and slowing digestion.
Recent findings show that rather than fat, our high sugar intake is to blame for cardiovascular disease, as well as numerous other lifestyle diseases.
2. Heart Health
“High fat diets have been associated with heart disease, but in reality, cutting out fats denies you the cardio-protective benefits of healthy fats raising your heart disease risk”
Monounsaturated fats offer significant heart health benefits, balancing levels of cholesterol, reducing the risk of heart disease and stroke. In fact, researchers found that a high-fat Mediterranean diet offered cardio-protective benefits, while low fat diets increase the risks. By cutting fats out of your diet, your risk of heart disease is actually increased!
3. Chronic Inflammation
“By cutting fats out, your body enters a state of chronic inflammation, as you are also denied the anti-inflammatory benefits of healthy fats like omega-3 fatty acids”
By avoiding fats, you deny yourself the benefits of anti-inflammatory healthy fats like omega-3 fatty acids. Found abundantly in fish and some nuts, these fats help to boost metabolism and burn fat, decreasing inflammatory markers. Oleocanthal, an antioxidant only found in certain oils like virgin olive oil has been shown to reduce inflammation.
Without adequate fat intake and high carb intake, your body enters a chronic state of inflammation that exposes you to a variety of health conditions, from everyday issues like weight gain and skin problems to diseases like diabetes and cancer.
4. Cancer Risk
“Low fat foods often include additives & synthetic emulsifiers as a fat substitute, but these ingredients are linked with a possible increase in cancer risk”
Most low fat diet foods that are available in the market contain artificial flavors and additives to compensate for the lost taste of fat. For example, low fat ice creams use synthetic emulsifiers as a substitute for fat, which acts as a natural emulsifier. Studies now show that some such additives can increase the risk of colon cancer.
5. Vitamin Deficiencies
“Low fat diets increase the risk of deficiencies in vitamins A, D, E & K, as these are fat soluble vitamins”
One of the most obvious ill effects of restricting fat intake is nutritional deficiency, as several vitamins like A, D, E, and K are fat-soluble, which means that they can only be absorbed with adequate fat intake. Low fat diets increase the risk of such nutritional deficiencies, which can adversely affect bone, eye, and skin health.
6. Weakened Immunity
“Immunity weakens with fat deprivation, as white blood cells require fatty acids for energy”
Your immunity starts to suffer because white blood cells, which are critical for immune function, require energy from fatty acids. As mentioned above, low fat intake can also lead to vitamin D deficiencies, weakening your body’s ability to fight off infections.
7. Poor Mental Health
“Inadequate fat intake is detrimental to brain health because of the vital role that healthy fats play in protecting memory & cognitive function”
Health care experts have long stressed the importance of healthy fats for expectant mothers, because of its role in brain development and growth, but these fats also play an important role in protecting memory and lowering the risk of cognitive impairment later in life. On the other hand increased carb intake, which raises blood sugar levels, increases the risk of chronic stress and depression because of an associated rise in cortisol levels.
8. Poor Skin
“Low levels of fat-soluble vitamins, like E & K, as well as omega-3 fats, increases the risk of acne, sun damage, premature aging & wrinkles”
Vitamin E and K, both of which are fat soluble, are essential for healthy skin. A fat deficiency therefore causes premature aging and wrinkles. At the same time, inflammatory skin conditions like acne and sun damage will also be more pronounced because of low levels of omega-3 fatty acids.
Moreover, low-fat diets are typically high in sugar and as shown in a study that appeared in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, this is linked with the development of advanced end glycation products that accelerate aging.
9. Weight Gain
“A low-fat high-carb diet will also cause weight gain, as sugar causes hormonal imbalances that increase cortisol levels, increasing belly fat buildup”
A high carb diet that is low in fats will also contribute to weight gain as high carb and sugar intake causes hormonal imbalances, increasing cortisol levels and the need for insulin. This makes you more vulnerable to belly fat of central obesity.
Whether you are looking to lose weight or get healthy, it would be best to follow a balanced diet that does not restrict intake of any food group. Instead of trying to avoid or focus on any specific nutrient, try to include only healthy food sources of those food groups. Look for healthy sources of fats like eggs, fish, dairy, and nuts, while restricting your intake of deep fried and processed foods. Likewise, when consuming carbs, only include those with complex, rather than simple carbs.
August 3, 2018