By: Clifford M. Sonnie, M.D.
Two physicians who did not know each other, both came up with a radical idea. While trying to treat their patients for two completely different problems both discovered that an all meat diet was the answer. What? An all meat diet? You mean eating fats? Unfortunately back in those days all fats were considered bad. So immediately their radical idea was discredited and cries came up from the medical community to have them both burned at the stake. (No pun intended). It is interesting that one physician was trying to treat his patients for allergies; the other physician was trying to treat his patient for crone’s disease and ulcerative colitis. Both came to the same conclusion. Saturated fats were the answer. What has changed since then for me to be able to even suggest that answer at this time? Well, following those days of yore when all fats were bad for you, the medical community changed their mind and said that unsaturated fats were good, all saturated fats were bad. Shortly thereafter only polyunsaturated fats were good, the other unsaturated fats were ok, and all saturated fats were bad. This soon changed to poly unsaturated fats were not good for you, monounsaturated fats were better, and saturated fats were still bad. Then trans fats came on the scene and they were placed in to the saturated fats category. Now realize these two fats are completely different and I agree with you that trans fats are bad mainly because they are man made and not found in nature.
So for the past quarter century that’s what the belief was. Saturated fats are bad for you and unsaturated; especially monounsaturated fats are good for you. Truth is saturated fats either from animal or vegetable source are good for you and vital for good health. Let’s see what they do. First, they provide the building blocks for cell membranes and they also are the building blocks for many of our hormones. So, if we don’t have saturated fats in the diet, we will have a deficiency of many of our hormones. I’m sure you all remember my cholesterol article. In addition, there are certain vitamins in our body that can only be dissolved in fat. Saturated fat is the preferred fat for these vitamins. They include vitamins A, D, and K. Saturated fats are the preferred fuel for your heart and are the major fatty acids that comprise your brain. Eliminate saturated fats and you deprive your brain of the raw materials needed. Even with respect to your heart, there is a substance called lipoprotein a. Increased levels of this substance suggest increased risk for heart disease. Saturated fats would decrease this substance. Osteoporosis can be effectively helped with saturated fats. Saturated fats are required for calcium to be incorporated into bone. I have often said eating more calcium is not going to prevent or cure osteoporosis. It is getting the calcium into the bone, and saturated fats are one of the things needed for that to occur. Breathing is also dependent on saturated fat. There is a substance that coats the inside of all of our lungs. It’s called surfactant and it is 100% saturated fat. Insulin release from the pancreas is also dependent on saturated fats and our immune system also depends on saturated fats. Deficiencies have also been known to cause our defense mechanisms found in our white blood cells to not recognize foreign enemies such as virus, bacteria and fungi. And finally, yes saturated fats have been known to actually lower cholesterol.
Now, I know that many of you will be yelling for me to also be burned at the stake (medium rare, with sautéed mushrooms, a nice chiante with fava beans). To them I say this, don’t label saturated fat as the enemy. Label a type of fat, namely trans fats, the enemy. Unfortunately trans fats and saturated fats are used interchangeably. Most people think they are the same thing, and indeed they are not. You need saturated in your diet. You need it from animal sources and vegetable sources and with respect to my vegetarian friends; animal sources are the best source for saturated fats. Especially grass fed organic beef and naturally raised lamb, organic cheeses, and my major source of saturated fat (in addition to a good steak) is coconut oil. I defy you to find heart disease on the island of Fiji where the major source of fats is coconuts, which is, you guessed it, saturated fats.
As with anything traditions die hard. The idea of saturated fats being introduced into your diet is ludicrous. If you take only two things away with you from this article they would be SATURATED FATS ARE NOT TRANS FATS and trans fat (man made fats) are the enemy. And as I have said from the get go everything in moderation. Everybody needs saturated fats, and unsaturated fats. To much or too little of either is detrimental. I have mentioned in the past, nutritional typing, which means that some people prefer carbs over proteins or vice versa. But everyone needs fats. As with anything discuss this with family M.D. or D.O. or stop into the Balance of Life and we’ll talk. Any one who knows me knows that I am not an advocate of diets, I am however an advocate of common sense. As always, the smart healthcare consumer is informed and aware.
Clifford M. Sonnie is the physician at the Balance of life Clinic.