NUTRITION: THE DANGER OF PUFA'S
What if there was a substance that you were consuming regularly that was severely hampering your efforts to get healthy? What if this substance was linked to accelerated aging and a variety of common health problems? What if this substance was used in numerous "health" foods and in numerous restaurants (largest culprit with all the oils that they use!!)? What if you were taking supplements that contained high amounts of a harmful substance that you were told was healthy? Well, this is happening and you are most likely unaware of it, the most damaging thing you can put in your body is not sugar and it is not gluten, it's PUFAs. WHAT? I know it can sound a little space agey, and I don't think enough has been said about these fats.
WHAT ARE PUFA'S?
PUFAs—short for polyunsaturated fats are a type of fatty acid. The type of fat that is available to us via the foods we eat generally fall into two categories: unsaturated fat (avocados) and saturated fat (think animal protein) . For ages we were advised to avoid saturated fats and emphasize unsaturated fats (or avoid fat all together), but the tides are turning and this is the last thing you should do! Healthy fats are SO nourishing, healing and critical for brain development and the functioning of your entire body. Remember when many cooking oils actually said "heart-healthy" on the bottle?? The research is overwhelmingly clear that saturated fats (I LOVE COCONUT!) are not only healthy, but that they are extremely beneficial for overall health.(DO NOT fear coconut products, one bit). What is NOT often talked about is the downright damaging impact of the class of highly unsaturated fats known as PUFAs.
WHY SHOULD YOU AVOID THEM?
The primary issue with PUFAs is that they are highly unstable. All fats have a temperature with which they oxidize (i.e. become unstable, go rancid, become toxic). This is why I ONLY recommend cooking / roasting with coconut oil OR if you consume dairy, organic + clarified GHEE. For PUFAs that temperature is very low. An easy way to remember this is that UNsaturated fats are UNstable and Saturated fats are Stable. Unstable fats are prone to oxidation. Oxidation lead to free radicals. This is the main point to take home! Free radicals lead to cellular damage in your body that can manifest both internally in the form of damaged organs/glands and externally in the form of rapidly aging skin, and even major diseases, the most commonly known GIANT C nightmare.
In addition, many of these fats can become unstable before they even enter your body. During processing, many of these "seed" oils are exposed to high heat (imagine trying to extract oil from a grape seed), which can often make the oils go rancid, harsh word, but it's the truth! These oils may also be exposed to high heat during travel which can also lead to a damaged and unstable product. This is one of the reasons many of these oils are shipped in dark containers and are required to be refrigerated (think of flax oil which is always in a dark bottle and must always be refrigerated).
The Benefits of Following low PUFA Diet:
Blood Sugar - PUFAs can damage the cells in your pancreas that produce insulin. If you want to lose body fat and achieve a high level of health, you want a very effective blood sugar handling system (this is the main reason for weight gain, unbalanced blood sugar). PUFAs can damage this system. For those with blood sugar handling issues the primary focus is usually reduced sugar intake, however, I believe it makes more sense to reduce PUFAs from your diet first, and than focus on the sugar. In conjunction, these two things can have a HUGE impact on your health and body.
Skin health - PUFAs are closely linked to age pigment formation, and a high level of PUFA in your body means when you are exposed to the sun, free radical damage is more likely.
Metabolism - PUFAs can stress various systems in your body, particularly the rate at which your cells produce energy (i.e. your metabolism). This has numerous implications for thyroid health and general hormonal balance. We aren't just given a set rate for our metabolism, and that is it. We can heal it, change it, and allow it to thrive!
Digestion / Immune System - PUFAs can impair protein digestion. Digestion problems are rampant TODAY, and eliminating PUFAs are an often overlooked and very effective way at supporting digestion. Your immune system is closely linked to your digestive system, a problem with digestion almost guarantees a poorly functioning immune system.
Detoxification - The liver plays a MAJOR role in detoxification, PUFAs can overburden the liver. That sluggish feeling you feel after eating out? You may have just consumed PUFAs...
NOW what you all want to hear!!! Where are PUFAs present?
PUFAs are present in nearly ALL foods (even vegetables)! While some extremists would say to avoid high-PUFA vegetables I don't believe you need to go that far. Small amounts of unprocessed PUFA in a well balanced diet are unlikely to cause any issues. The most damaging PUFAs are the processed liquid cooking oils below: which I do recommend to stay away from cold turkey.
Canola oil, Grapseed Oil, Corn Oil, Soybean Oil, Generic Vegetable Oil, Walnuts Oil, Cottonseed Oil, Sesame Oil, Peanut Oil, Margarine, Flaxseed Oil.
Hidden Sources of PUFA Exposure:
Snacks - Most energy bars, granola, potato chips, flax seeds, chia seeds (chia and flax in moderation are ok! So don't fret. Make sure you're buying organic)
Commercially raised beef, poultry, eggs. Animals fed a diet high in PUFA (i.e. corn and soy) will have high levels of PUFA in their tissues. Please if you eat meat, but hormone free organic!
Most restaurants and take-out options use PUFA cooking oils.
Fish Oil - Yes, fish oil is a PUFA. While short term (i.e. a few months) therapeutic use may be effective for reducing inflammation, long term daily use has a number of negative implications. I recommend cycling your fish oil, taking it for a few months, staying clear for another few months, and re-introduce it.
Plan of Action
Avoid PUFA oils to the best of your ability, especially for cooking.
Always use heat stable fats for cooking (i.e. coconut oil, ghee, butter).
Limit the amount of times per week you eat out and follow the eating out tips below.
Consume high PUFA foods (i.e. nuts, seeds, fatty fish) in limited quantities (i.e. a few times a week instead of daily)
If you consume animal products ensure that the animals are not fed any PUFA. This means consuming grass-fed beef and pasture raised eggs and poultry. There are many other benefits to this approach as well.
If you are a vegan or vegetarian and nuts and seeds are a significant component of your diet it may be beneficial to consume lots of coconut oil and possibly to supplement with Vitamin E.
TIPS / NOTES
Vitamin E is a VERY powerful antioxidant and may help offset the damage caused by PUFAs. When you go out to a restaurant or if you are in the mood for some French fries, take some vitamin E when you get home. It sounds silly, but it will help counteract the effects of the oils.
Eat more saturated fat in general, but especially on days when you will be consuming PUFAs (whether intentionally or unintentionally). Saturated fat can offset the damage caused by PUFAs. Bring on the coconut oil + coconut meat.
If you only want to do one thing for your health, limit your exposure to PUFAs.(and of course minimalize your refined sugar consumption!). I don't think this is spoken about enough. Of course it's not seomething to become obsessed about.
I thought this little story was SO interesting, as I was reading more about the dangers of PUFA //
It is rumored that pig farmers attempted to feed there pigs coconut oil to fatten them up (in the days when coconut oil, was cheap). Apparently the pigs got lean and muscular on the coconut oil diet. Only after they started feeding them corn, soybeans and grains did they begin to bulk up.
Don't fear Saturated Fat! Of course look to the healthy options, not fried food guys, but make sure you are choosing the RIGHT type of oils + fats to cook in. Take a look in your cupboard and note which oils you are cooking with, if they are in dark bottles, if they must be kept in the fridge, and when in doubt use COCONUT OIL! It truly is my best friend. I cook with it, use it in baking, bathe in it, slather my skin in it, use it as a hair mask, put it in smoothies, use it to shave my legs, the uses are endless really. Keep a jar in the kitchen and your bathroom and I promise you, you will NEVER look back.
HAPPY SATURDAY BEAUTIES! I hope this shines some light on a source of fats, that are not really discussed that often in main stream news.