Change Your Health Direction: ‘The Fat Truth’

avrilThroughout the Change Your Health Direction (CYHD) programme I have noticed that many people have a completely misguided perception about fats! Through powerful advertising, we have been conditioned to believe that if we want to lose weight we should avoid fat and the ‘low-fat’ diet industry thrives on this. Fat-free and low-fat products are everywhere but they are most often not the healthiest option and can actually hinder weight loss and affect our health in the long term.

Firstly, fat-free and low-fat products are often full of sugar, artificial sweeteners and other ‘nasties’ to help compensate for the lack of fat. The sugar is then just converted into fat in the body anyway and, as the product is far less satiating due to the lack of fats, we need to eat a lot more of these foods to feel full! It is true that we need to avoid certain fats in order to achieve optimum weight and health, those being saturated fats and trans fats. These can be found in vegetable oils, pastries, biscuits, fried foods, confectionery etc.

However, eating the right types of fats is crucial for optimum health! ‘Essential fatty acids’ are fats that our bodies need in order to function normally; they cannot be manufactured in the body so we must include them in our diets. They are the building blocks that the body uses to manufacture hormones and cell membranes, as well as having a natural anti-inflammatory effect which can help to alleviate symptoms of arthritis and other inflammatory conditions. They can also protect us against heart disease and stroke as they play a role in thinning the blood. The list of benefits is endless and low levels have been linked with numerous psychiatric disorders (as well as many other chronic conditions) including depression so fats really can help make you happy! I just cannot stress the importance of these good fats enough; cutting them out of your diet will be detrimental to your long term health.

The two main essential fatty acids that need to be included in your diet are omega-6 and omega-3 fatty acids. The typical western diet usually supplies us with sufficient quantities of omega-6 fatty acids as they are found in meat, dairy produce and eggs so they are not usually cause for concern. Good sources of omega-3 fatty acids include chia seeds, flax seeds, pumpkin seeds, oily fish such as mackerel, salmon and herring. Avocados, nuts and nut butters are other ways to increase our intake of healthy fats and they are incredibly tasty and satisfying.

I always recommend the inclusion of a high quality omega-3 supplement where possible and we have some great products at LloydsPharmacy, my favourite being Revive Active Krill Oil. This is a high quality form of omega-3 fatty acids because they are sourced from a pure environment, in a sustainable and traceable manner and naturally contain a powerful anti-oxidant called astaxanthin which helps to protect the quality of the oil. They are much more readily absorbed by the body, compared to other omega-3 supplements and there is no fishy after-taste or reflux associated with them. Overall they are a very worthwhile investment in your long-term health! Check out the range of Krill Oil Products on our website or speak to any of our in-store colleagues for information on which product is best for you.

And finally, just in relation to cooking with fats – always use a heat-stable fat such as coconut oil, preferably organic and unrefined. Other fats such as sunflower oil, rapeseed oil, olive oil should not be used at high temperatures as they are converted to free radicals which can have massive health implications!

Written by Avril Reilly, Pharmacist and Change Your Health Direction coach in LloydsPharmacy Carlow.

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Essential Fatty Acids – The Good Fats

Have you heard of essential fatty acids – “The Good fats”? But most importantly how great they are for you? I recently discovered just how fantastic these guys are while studying nutritional coaching with the Irish Institute of Nutrition and Health.

Omega_3_heart_webPeople are always afraid of the word fat but fats in the form of essential fatty acids (EFA’s) (polyunsaturated fats) are essential for our health and wellbeing and most people are simply just not getting enough of them because of over processed diets and one indicator that people are not getting enough of EFA’s in their diet is the rise in depression and cardiovascular disease.

So without getting to tech savvy let’s break down the how and the why of these fats; “Essential fatty acids, or EFAs, are fatty acids that humans and other animals must ingest because the body requires them for good health but cannot synthesize them. The term “essential fatty acid” refers to fatty acids required for biological processes but does not include the fats that only act as fuel”. Only two fatty acids are known to be essential for humans: alpha-linolenic acid (an omega-3 fatty acid) and linoleic acid (an omega-6 fatty acid).

EFAs support the cardiovascular, reproductive, immune, and nervous systems. The human body needs EFAs to manufacture and repair cell membranes. A primary function of EFAs is the production of prostaglandins, which regulate body functions such as heart rate, blood pressure, blood clotting, fertility, conception, and play a role in immune function by regulating inflammation and encouraging the body to fight infection

EFA deficiency and Omega 6/3 imbalance is linked with serious health conditions, such as heart attacks, cancer, insulin resistance, asthma, lupus, schizophrenia, depression, stroke, obesity, diabetes, arthritis, ADHD, and Alzheimer’s Disease, among others.

So how do we get these good guys into our diet?
Omega 3 – Flax seed oil hempseed oil, hempseeds, walnuts, pumpkin seeds, Brazil nuts, sesame seeds, avocados, some dark leafy green vegetables (kale, spinach, purslane, mustard greens, collards, etc.) salmon, mackerel, sardines, anchovies, albacore tuna, and others.

Findings show omega-3 fish oil may help to:
• Lower blood pressure
• Reduce triglycerides
• Slow the development of plaque in the arteries
• Reduce the chance of abnormal heart rhythm
• Reduce the likelihood of heart attack and stroke
• Lessen the chance of sudden cardiac death in people with heart disease
• Improved Brain Function

Omega 6 – Flaxseed oil, hempseed oil, hempseeds, grapeseed oil, pumpkin seeds, pine nuts, pistachio nuts, sunflower seeds (raw), olive oil, olives, borage oil, evening primrose oil, black currant seed oil, chestnut oil, chicken, among many others.

4020061_Eskimo_3_With_Vitamin_E_250CapsAs most of us are not getting enough essential fatty acids in our daily diets there is an excellent supplement called Eskimo – 3, it is 100% natural omega 3 and to get fish as fresh as those used in these capsules you would have to go down to your local harbour and meet your local fisherman every day!!!. They are ISO certified and it is the only naturel fish oil that has been authorised as a natural remedy in Sweden. This means that it meets the same high standards for production and quality that are set for conventional medicines.

Studies related to Omega 3 – Dyslexia affects more than 2500 families in Ireland and just like ADD, people with dyslexia have a deficiency of omega 3 fatty acids in their blood lipids. Supplementation with Omega 3 should reduce this problem.

Vital for retinal development and maintenance – Several studies show that Omega 3 can help protect adult eyes from macular degeneration (Leading cause of blindness in older people) and dry eye syndrome

  • Eskimo 3 lowers LDL cholesterol and increases HDL
  • Eskimo 3 Lowers triglycerides
  • Eskimo 3 improves blood circulation
  • Joint Health and inflammation – Natural anti-inflammatory and increases synovial fluid around the joints – increase flexibility.
  • Can be used for skin conditions such as, eczema, dry skin, psoriasis and acne

Written by Nichola