saturated fat

Nutrient density: the best way to fuel your body

I was once one of those people who needed to eat every few hours. If I didn't, I would feel suddenly weak and dizzy, as if I were an iphone whose battery precipitously dropped from 83% to 2%. Mid-workout, I would grab an energy bar to power up again. In my worst moments, I would become shaky and sweaty, like someone detoxing from alcohol. It wasn't a pretty picture. I eventually stumbled upon the term “hypoglycemia” and determined that I simply needed to eat more frequently. It never occurred to me to look closely at what exactly I was eating. What was the composition of my diet exactly and could it have been a factor in my condition? In the 1930s, Dr. Weston A. Price, a dentist and a researcher, became curious about what contributed to good health. Thankfully, he did carefully examine and compare various diets to determine the factors at play in the best diets. He looked at the nutritional content of traditional foods and compared it with the so-called modern foods of his time (those sold at shops and comprised of refined flours, sugars, etc.) He found that traditional diets had 4x the minerals and water-soluble vitamins and 10x the fat-soluble vitamins A, D, and K. The bottom line? Modern diets often were (and still are) woefully inadequate in critical nutrients.

Whether we currently have any health concerns or not, it’s clearly time to ask ourselves some important questions, starting with: what the heck are we eating?! Are we simply satisfying our hunger with whatever happens to be close to our “pie hole,” or are we looking to build our bodies in better ways? I don’t mean “build” in a muscle-building fat-burning machine way, although some may have that goal. I mean, are we giving our bodies the fuel they need to thrive? Better nutrition translates into more energy, less fatigue. There’s easier brain function/more brain power, greater ease of movement/strength to take on physical tasks. Do you want this for yourself, for your family? Who doesn't, right?!

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Sally Fallon Morell takes Dr. Price’s findings and helps us figure out how to apply them in the day-to-day. She seriously sheds light on how to get the biggest bang for your buck out of every bite. (I may be mixing metaphors here, but you get what I'm saying!) Click here to listen to episode #30 entitled “Nutrient density.” In it, Sally touches on:

- how even those who think they’re eating “healthy” may still not be getting all of the vitamins and minerals they need - the foods that offer the fat-soluble vitamins that are critical for our brain and body function (in organ meats, fish eggs, egg yolks, cheese, for example) - the symptoms of fat-soluble vitamin-deficiency (including depression and anxiety) - the dangers of a diet high in lean proteins (without sufficient fat) - the fats that are implicated in heart disease (hint: not the saturated fats) - how vitamins A, D, and K are a triumvirate: how they work together and should be in balance - why she questions the USDA’s definition of “nutrient density” (Hint: they call vegetables nutrient dense, but they count it per calorie, and many vegetables are low in calories. This means that you’d have to eat copious amounts of broccoli, for example, to get the same amount of vitamins or minerals you’d get from a spoonful of liver.) - how Dr. Price, through improved nutrition, improved the health and behavior of  some orphans - how to tweak your diet to improve not only your physical health but your mental health; how to increase optimism - the one simple thing you can do to make a noticeable difference in your health, even if you do nothing else

I'm convinced that nutrient density (principle #3) is key to wellness. (For the entire list of "characteristics of traditional diets" click here.) I've been tweaking my diet over the years to align with the Wise Traditions diet and guess what?! All symptoms of hypoglycemia have resolved. Better still, I have no serious health concerns. I have sustained energy for the physical and mental tasks I want to complete. My body and mind feel strong and good.

What about you? Are you willing to try some of the foods rich in fat-soluble vitamins? What can you add to your diet to help your body thrive? Please comment below if you take even one small step in the nutrient-dense direction. I'm eager to hear what difference it makes for you!

*** Hilda Labrada Gore is a health coach and the host of the Wise Traditions podcast (found on iTunes, Stitcher and at westonaprice.org). She is also the DC chapter leader for the Weston A. Price Foundation.

Chewing the fat with Chris Masterjohn

In the movie, "Little Miss Sunshine" Steve Carrell's character, Frank, pointedly yells at his niece, "Fat makes you fat." He was trying to shame the young girl into changing her order at a diner. For decades, the U.S. government was sending Americans the same message--warning us to steer clear of fat, and practically shaming us for craving it. They said it was linked to heart disease. So the public heeded the warning, but health issues--obesity, chronic conditions, and, yes, heart disease--continued to rise despite compliance with the recommendations. In recent years, the government and even the conventional medical community has begun to pivot, actually recommending that we eat fats for our well-being. But which are the best fats? And how much should we be eating?

Enter Chris Masterjohn, assistant professor of Health and Nutrition Sciences at Brooklyn College in New York. Chris has a  PhD in Nutritional Sciences and is a brilliant person to discuss such a topic. And so we did, on the Wise Traditions podcast. Yes, we chewed the fat...about fat! Give a listen to episode #28: Fat does a body good.

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Here are some of the things you'll learn.

  • how fat helps your body run
  • moving from fear of fat toward freedom
  • how to eat to fuel your body's needs
  • how to figure out what diet (and percentage of fat) will work best for your particular body
  • what sources of fats have been eaten over the course of human history
  • how our diet has shifted away from animal fats to oils like soybean, canola, sunflower, safflower, corn, and cottonseed
  • how this shift may be the cause of many of modern diseases
  • the difference between saturated, polyunsaturated, and monounsaturated fats
  • the definition of essential fatty acids
  • the role of cholesterol (and what numbers could be a red flag)
  • a recommendation for a certain type of health care practitioner

Chris concluded our conversation with a surprising suggestion for what to do to achieve optimal health. (To learn more from Chris, check out "The Daily Lipid"  or follow him on social media @chrismasterjohn.)

As we wrapped up our talk, I walked away with some new insights and with a conviction that was stronger than ever:  fat does many things for us, but it most certainly does NOT make us fat, no matter what the movies (or other media) may tell us!

*** Hilda Labrada Gore is a health coach and the host of the Wise Traditions podcast (found on iTunes, Stitcher and at westonaprice.org). She is also the DC chapter leader for the Weston A. Price Foundation.

All I want for Christmas is…coconut oil?

I can't remember when or how we were introduced. All I know is that my life has never been the same since. You are so smooth, and, wow, do you smell great! You are perfect for every occasion and when introduced to my friends, you never fail to impress.                       Ah, coconut oil! If you have not yet made the acquaintance of this near-perfect oil, it is time to do so. You too will soon be singing its praises. It enhances dishes with an ever so slight coconut-y taste that makes you feel like you have suddenly been picked up and whisked off to a Caribbean island (and what with the thawing of relations with Cuba, this is suddenly a very real possibility!)

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First a little background on coconut oil. Coconut oil is 92% saturated fat, but don't let that scare you. (See link here for background on when/why saturated fat became "public enemy #1" and why many think that saturated fat is actually good for you!) Two-thirds of that saturated fat is from medium-chain fatty acids. Medium-chain fatty acids have anti-microbial, anti-tumor and immune-system supporting properties, in addition to having anti-fungal properties. Translation: you are less likely to get sick and more likely to stay well when you use this oil!

Another interesting fact is that coconut oil contains lauric acid, which is found primarily in mother's milk!  Lauric acid is a great anti-microbial and anti-fungal agent. Babies need protection from parasites and bad bacteria and so do we!

Check out this graphic from organicfacts.net to get an eyeful of more of its benefits.

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Of course, I can also recommend olive oil, which is rich in antioxidants and which has its own light taste. And butter, which has the benefits of short- and medium-chain fatty acids mentioned above. Other fine options are flaxseed oil, palm oil, peanut oil, and lard and tallow. Some of these have been used for millennia and are wonderful vehicles for vitamin and mineral absorption.(But, in general, you would do well to avoid vegetable oils. They are problematic on a number of fronts--including the fact that some oils are simply not fit for human consumption until they have been processed and deodorized. Read this link for more detailed info from fellow blogger, The Wellness Mama.)

But coconut oil is my first love. Not only is it yummy (an important criterion, of course) and beneficial (as noted above), but it's also versatile. I use it on a regular basis as a              body moisturizer,  lip balm,  hair de-frizzer, and face cream.

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My favorite brand is Blue Breeze Organic Virgin Coconut Oil. Maybe it's not too late to put this on your Christmas list, too! Get it, and I'll look for you on the island, my friend!