JinJee, the beautiful raw food blogger, recently posted her thoughts on those who refrain from consuming over a certain level of fat in their diets. “I understand that a lot of people have difficulty digesting fats and I’m sure that has something to do with damage from the SAD diet, but…after 3 months to 2 years raw…the system will be healed enough to be able to happily ingest the fats that are necessary to thrive.”
Frankly, being a person who has (quite often) struggled with maintaining an “ideal weight,” I found this a little weird. I know for a fact you have struggled with this at least once, too. How? You don’t know what’s really the truth! Check this out:
Here, my weight should go no lower than 127 and no higher than 159 — 143 is healthy.
Here, my weight should go no lower than 117 and no higher than 157. No weight is said “ideal.”
And here, my weight should be no lower than 138 and no higher than 151. Apparently, I’m underweight here.
But trust me when I say I feel like I could lose the muffin top — even at my present “ideal” weight.
Why do I mention this alongside JinJee’s fat story? Because this fear of weight, gaining or losing too much of it, directly coincides with my fear of fats. Think about it. When you tell someone you are overweight, or think you could lose a few pounds, it’s never said that way. Instead, it’s “I’m fat, I have to lose this chub, this jiggly fat!” Yet, the fats we consume are not the fats that surface underneath our skin. Most surface fats are fat cells that have expanded to make room for additional sugars in the body that are stored for later use (running a marathon, or from a mammoth for example). Basically, if you burn 1800 calories in a day, and you consume 1900 calories of sugars and carbohydrates, 100 calories of those sugars get stored in fat cells, swelling them over time. Cellulite? That’s what the swelling looks like. You can imagine those extra 20 calories from a pump of syrup at Starbucks add up quickly. If you make this trip every day, in a year you will gain over two pounds (365 x 20 = 7300 calories, 3500 calories being a pound).
Gary Taubes has many books about this phenomenon; check out his Google Authors video if you have a lunch break.
Carbohydrates are not the evil that must be avoided. They are a new food that we haven’t entirely adapted to yet in human evolution. Stephan Guyenet, Biochem graduate (from UVA, my old locale) and Neurobio Ph.D. (from my current locale, UW), wrote an intriguing article about his argument on this question: How equipped are we, on a cellular level, to consume grain?
Because this topic will be discussed in its own post later on, I will end this point with Guyenet’s statement on wheat (check this out, gluten-free’ers!): “The fact that up to 1% of people of European descent may have celiac disease attests to the fact that 7,000 years have not been enough time to fully adapt to wheat…nearly half of genetic Europeans carry genes that are associated with celiac…we haven’t been weeded out thoroughly enough to tolerate wheat, the oldest grain!”
Fats, on the other hand, are a macronutrient that our bodies are well-equipped to work with. Every single process of fat digestion exists in each person’s body. Unlike grains, which can have problematic proteins that our single-stomachs are unable to break down entirely, fats are broken down by the stomach, the liver, the pancreas, and the small intestine. The liver creates bile and the pancreas creates pancreatic lipase which obliterate the atomic structures of fats into tiny little digestible bits. The body has every tool in its biochemical tool kit to achieve energy from this macronutrient. Grains inhibit absorption and disrupt digestion with phytates, which also prevent you from using any of the additional minerals or vitamins from other foods.
As you can see, carbohydrates can cause inflammation, allergy-like symptoms, digestive upset (which can lead to weight gain or loss), and a whole slew of other symptoms the world is only beginning to discover. Fats provide you with the correct environment to absorb fat-soluble vitamins: D, E, A, K, and your essential fatty acids. Those nutrients we’re finding mass deficiencies in: how convenient.
Fats also lubricate the body: literally. Your skin, nails, and hair will have the oils whizzing through your bloodstream to soften and strengthen your collagen cells, bones, and eyes. Imagine never having dry eyes, applying lip balm, or having to use a heavy moisturizing conditioner. Consume enough healthy fats, and you will get there. JinJee offers a great paragraph or two on proper sources of fats in a raw vegan diet, or your own diet (as it fits). “The Whole Grain Scam” gives some advice on proper preparation of grains: simply soaking and sprouting them.
I would like to conclude this post by saying that everything is best left in moderation. Just like life can be too exciting, too frightening, or too frustrating at times — it is never constantly overstimulating. We elegantly navigate our lives in a state of fluidity, harmony, and balance. We reach our most elevated highs and darkest depths, always rising or falling to come back to our center. It is the journey that completes us, and defines our lives. Not one mistake, or one success. Our choices are our gifts. Choose wisely.
Would you be hesitant to eat more fat-containing food, based on your previous knowledge of it? Do you feel like no-grain diets are a fad? What does your daily diet normally consist of?