Fats are one of our primary energy sources and an essential nutrient for our bodies. They do a lot for us including, aid in weight management, absorbing nutrients, supporting our immune function, regulating body temperature, as well as brain function and hormonal balance.
The number one reason why you should be paying attention to your healthy fat intake is a hormonal balance. Many women in the fitness industry will mention they haven’t had their cycle in months or sometimes years. This is mostly caused by extreme diets from either their own judgment of thinking fat is something that needs to be avoided to see results. It is often seen when someone is prepping for a fitness show with a coach that had them eating very minimal to almost no fat with the idea they will drop weight quick.
The problem with this is fats are an essential macronutrient. Eating enough is crucial to keep your body in homeostasis/balance. Many don’t know or realize that certain fats, including cholesterol, act as antioxidants and precursors to brain molecules and transmitters.
When you are on a low-fat diet, you risk missed cycles which can lead to infertility. The hormones that are affected the most by a low-fat intake are testosterone, estrogen and vitamin D. Yes, vitamin D is a vitamin but our bodies utilize it more like a hormone than an actual vitamin.
Ever heard the term, “prep brain”? Many people who cut fats too low and deplete their body of essential healthy fats have complained or experienced what they describe as their brain being “foggy”. The brain is made up of fats, so feeling “off” isn’t surprising when fat intake is cut too low.
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Proper brain function requires a steady stream of fatty acids to perform optimally. Believe it or not, cholesterol levels being very low can be often worse at times than having high cholesterol due to the role of it helping the brains function of neurons and neurotransmitters.
In laymen terms, fat is needed for you to think clearly, have abstract reasoning, attention/ concentration, proper functioning along with word fluency.
There are many more areas of concern when someone’s diet is lacking in fat. Some include heart health, having a higher risk of insulin resistance which can lead to diabetes, gut related problems and have even led to a higher risk of anxiety and depression.
Some healthy saturated fats to consider including into your diet are plant based vegetable oils like sunflower oil, along with salmon, nuts, walnuts, sunflower seeds and avocado. Unhealthy saturated fats that should not be consumed in excess include, but aren’t limited to: French fries, fatty meats and foods that are packaged like chips or cookies.
Fat is not something to be avoided or scared of, it’s imperative for cognitive function, healthy hormones and overall health.
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