Friendly Fats

When we talked about fats in the 4380 Fitness Challenge nutrition night, one person asked me if she was eating too much fat. What she actually has found is that, for her, eating more fat actually helps with anxiety. This is a fantastic personal discovery! In the 6 daily diet tips I mention a goal of 6 tablespoons of healthy fat a day. This of course is a general guideline. I cannot tell you how much fat or carbs or protein is exactly right for you. Only you will be able to what is safe and healthy through individual professional guidance and even then, some trial and error.

Also, keep in mind your needs will change with age and season. We all need to eat for the season. When it is cold outside we need heartier, heavier meals. When it is hot and humid, we need light and refreshing sustenance to fuel us without weighing us down. Babes need higher fat as the brain is rapidly developing and different life situations demand different nutrients.

Time  for an Oil Change?

Did you know that the human brain is nearly 60 percent fat? Getting the right fats in your diet is the most crucial way to boost your brain’s integrity and ability to perform. Essential fatty acids (EFAs) are required for optimal message conduction not only in the brain, but across every cellular membrane in the body. 

More of these

If you are sensitive to a food like dairy or nuts, then you need to look at the other alternatives of healthy fats on the list.

  • Fish oil
  • Coconut oil
  • Olive Oil
  • Avocados & their oil
  • Small amounts of real butter or ghee (clarified butter)
  • Oils found in nuts in seeds
  • Fats found naturally in whole dairy
  • Fats found naturally in responsibly raised poultry & meat

Supplemental Fish oil (3rd party tested and cleansed of heavy metals):

  • Reduces cholesterol:
    • reduce triglyceride levels by 20% to 50%
  • In those with coronary artery disease: Heart attacks reduced risk by 20% and sudden death by 30% (better than statins alone)
  • Improves symptoms of depression and increase length of remission
  • Reduces symptoms of psychosis, Alzheimer’s disease and other dementias
  • Reduces inflammation and severity of rheumatoid arthritis (RA), osteoporosis, psoriasis, atopic dermatitis, ulcerative colitis, Crohn’s disease, Behcet’s syndrome, and Raynaud’s syndrome
  • Helpful in weight loss
  • Reduces muscular soreness after exercise

Are saturated fats bad for you?

Yes and no. Too much of anything is not good for you. So, yes trim excess fat off your meat and avoid too much chicken skin, however, eating marbled meats and full fat dairy, coconut products and egg yolks will help  incorporate calcium into the bones, protect the liver from damage by alcohol and medications like acetaminophen, has beneficial effects on cardiovascular function, deliver fat soluble vitamins.

Less of these

  • Sunflower oil
  • Canola oil
  • Peanuts, and peanut oil
  • Safflower Oil

Not all fats are created equal.

Industry seed oils are those made from the seeds of corn, cotton, sunflower, safflower or a hybrid called canola. A small amount of these oils is not an issue, as we do need some omega 6 fats in our diet. Problem is with the North American tendency to eat fast food, restaurant food, processed and packaged foods, we tend to get way too many of these and not enough omega 3 fats. This tips the scale towards inflammation. Industry seed oils are easily oxidized and oxidized fats is a leading contributor to modern inflammatory diseases such as cardiovascular disease, Alzheimers, non alcoholic fatty liver disease and fibromyalgia.

 

Never these

  • Transfats
  • Super heat vegetable oil (fried foods)
  • Rancid oils

Trans fats that are manufactured by hydrolyzing an natural fat tends to do all the wrong things to cholesterol. Trans fats raise LDL and triglycerides and lower HDL.  Not good.

Rancid oils, or fats that are past their shelf life will contribute to oxidative stress in your body. This means aging!

Anything eaten in excess can be converted and stored in the body as fat. That includes protein and carbohydrates. Did you know one of the main reasons for young people today being diagnosed with non alcoholic fatty liver is the excessive sugars in their diet?

Friendly Fat Facts

  1. Essential Fatty Acids (EFA’s) must be taken in the diet as they can not synthesized by the body. It is often necessary to supplement. Fish oil that is third party tested and cleansed of heavy metals in either a gel cap or, more economically, liquid, is best.
  2. Fats are required to help us absorb fat soluble vitamins  (A, D, E & K)
  3. Healthy fats consumed earlier in the day (breakfast) will help curb afternoon cravings.
  4.  Naturally occurring saturated fats that marble meat or as a part of dairy have benefits when consumed in moderation

This means

  1. Breakfast: could include your dose of fish oil (EFA’s) and vitamin D, a handful of nuts, or simply a tablespoon of coconut oil in your cup of coffee.
  2.  Lunch & Supper: Salad or vegetables could be complimented with either 2 TBSP of olive oil, 1/4 avocado or  some omega-3 rich fish like sardines, salmon, herring. Even lamb or chicken – light or dark meat or strips of steak will help get the most out of all your nutrients.

From the research and mind of Dr. Laura M. Brown, ND.

 Reference:
Kresser, Chris. 2014. The Paleo Cure. Eat Right for Your Genes, Body Type, and Personal Health Needs — Prevent and Reverse Disease, Lose Weight Effortlessly, and Look and Feel Better than Ever. Little, Brown & Company. New York.
Natural Medicines Comprehensive Database Fish Oil monograph accessed Dec 30, 2014. Full monograph available upon request.

 

Brainy Nut Ball Recipe

These brainy nut balls are an anti-inflammatory powerhouse full of vitamins, minerals, protein, carbohydrates, and healthy fats. Fuel your brain and your body… a couple of these are great before a work out or a mid-day work snack. Once you get the hang of making them you can alternate the type of nuts and seeds you use to help get variety into your diet.

They are dairy and gluten free if the ingredients you purchase say so. All nuts are raw and have no other coating on them (watch ingredients).

 

Dr. Laura’s Ginger Nut Balls

8-10 dried figs, stems removed

1/2c Pumpkin seeds or coconut (unsweetened shredded) or sesame nutballsseastrokesseeds

1c walnuts or almond or hazel nuts

1/3 cup hemp hearts

1/2c ground flax

¼ c fancy molasses

2-3tbsp olive oil

1-3 tbsp ground dried ginger (depends on strength)

1 tbsp ground cinnamon

 

Food process until it looks like cookie batter (starts to clump a bit but is well mixed).

Roll/press into balls a little small than a Timbit size.

Best eaten in 3-5 days, store in fridge.

From the heart, mind and kitchen of your local naturopathic doctor Dr. Laura M. Brown, ND.

Picture complements of seastoke.com

Cholesterol: The New, the Tried and the Natural

Lower Cholesterol

Let’s take a moment to remember what cholesterol is all about, take a look at the traditional statin drugs, some newer medications on the market and talk a little about natural therapies that can provide valuable service to your cardiovascular health.

I want help now

The big push over the last few decades has been to lower cholesterol to lower the risk cardiovascular events such as pulmonary emboli, myocardial infarction, and stroke. Sometimes we get so caught up in lowering one marker, we loose sight of the bigger picture. Cholesterol is only one component to cardiovascular health, however it is one that can be easily targeted with medication and tracked through blood analysis.

Cholesterol is a necessary component and building block for many of our hormones, Vitamin D and substances that help with digestion. We could not survive without it. The trouble comes when excessive cholesterol populates our blood stream, it is easily oxidized and creates deposits called plaques in our arteries.

Excessive cholesterol comes from our diet (cholesterol, trans fat, saturated fats or even if we consume too many carbohydrates) or from hereditary factors that affect cholesterol production. The plaques take up space and narrow the path that our blood flows through. When the plaque builds up enough it can block our blood supply, starving off the tissue it is designed to feed – this is an infarction.

The word infarction means “plug up or cram”.  Sometimes a piece of the plaque can break off (emboli) and float through our blood stream and get caught in areas where the vessels are narrowed like our brain or lung and lead to a restriction of blood supply (another type of infarction).  A myocardial infarction (MI) is when an area of the heart is starved of oxygen and the muscle tissue subsequently dies. A transient ischemic attack (TIA) is where there is temporary interruption of blood flow in the brain. A hemorrhage is where the integrity of the blood vessel wall fails and blood escapes.

Ok, so it makes sense to pay attention to excess cholesterol!

The Stats on Statins

 HMG Co-A Reductase Inhibitors (i.e. atorvastatin/Lipitor, Fluvastatin/Lescol, lovastatin/Mevacor, pravastatin/Pravachol, simvastatin/Zocor, rosuvastatin/Crestor)

Cost at most $300/year CND

Generally: statins reduce LDL by 20-60%, increase HDL by 5-15% and reduce Triglycerides by 7-30% Statins are prescribed more to reduce cardiovascular event risk, rather than to reduce cholesterol levels.

Evidence of being able to treat to target levels doesn’t exist. Research has found that less than half of patients on 80mg per day will achieve at target LDL of <2mmol/L.

Most will find if they have no benefit at 10mg, they will not have any increased benefit at 80mg. Also, on the note of dosage, higher dosed statins affect HbA1c, a factor measuring your blood sugar and risk of type II diabetes. In a pooled analysis of data from 5 statin trials, intensive-dose statin therapy was associated with an increased risk of new-onset diabetes compared with moderate-dose statin therapy.

Women:  For women, unless they have existing cardiovascular disease there is no evidence that lowering their lipids will decrease their risk of coronary heart disease related death.

 Men: For primary prevention in men, the absolute benefit of statins use over 5 years (the reduction of major coronary events) is around 1.5%. That means if their risk of cardiovascular disease was 8 or 9% with no statins, while on statins, their risk is 7%. For secondary prevention in men (meaning they have already had one coronary event) their absolute benefit is 4%. This means if they have had a stroke, heart attack, heart failure, angina, TIA in the past, if they take the statin their risk is 16% where as if they didn’t it would be 20%.

Simvastatin is a first line of therapy. In one study, for every 12 people treated, one life was saved. Another study showed over 5.4 years of therapy for every 31 people treated, 1 death is prevented. Simvastatin will reduce LDL by 35% and usually the prescribed amount is 20-40mg daily.

Most common side effect: Often induces muscle pain (myopathy or at extreme rhabdomylosis).

About 50% of people will stop taking statins after 3 years due to their adverse effects.

Muscle pain aggravated by alcohol, advanced age (>80), chronic renal insufficiency, grapefruit juice, small body frame, liver health, untreated hypothyroidism, gender (women more affected than men), infections, perioperative periods, vigorous exercise, vitamin D deficiency. Drugs that will increase the muscle aches: Amiodarone, Azole antifungals, Calcium channel blockers, Cyclosporine, HIV protease inhibitors, Fibrates, Macrolide antibiotics (clarithromycin, erythromycin), and occasionally Nicotinic acid. If there is potential for drug interaction, the best choice is pravastatin.

 

What about the new drugs?

Alirocumab (Praluent ) about $14,600/yr USD

Evolocumab (Repatha ) about $14,100/yr USD

Benefit is there is no muscle pain however these are at a much higher cost and are self-injected every two to four weeks rather than taken orally. They work by blocking PCSK9 inhibitors, (monoclonal antibodies) and the medication is able to lower the LDL cholesterol circulating in the blood. Research is limited however so far it shows to lower LDL levels by about 60 percent. It also lowers the risk of heart attack and mortality related to heart disease over about a one to two-year follow-up.

What is available naturally?

Limit dietary cholesterol intake to <300mg per day

Restrict transfats and saturated fats

Limit carbohydrate intake

Eat more vegetables and fruit

Increase plant sterol intake to 1g 2x/day

Include up to 40g of fibre per day (most North Americans get <8g per day!)

Limit alcohol to 1 drink per day for women and 2 for men – have some days alcohol free

Regular Exercise

A Good Night Sleep

Supplements to help regulate blood glucose & incorporate healthy fats

There are numerous cardiovascular supplements you may wish to consider with your healthcare practitioner. Too many to mention here and they are specific to an individual’s overall need and one must be careful to have the right dose, duration and be sure there is no interaction with other medications or supplements.

 See Dr. Laura M. Brown ND for your personalized cholesterol lowering treatment plan

Fish Oil

One universal supplement that has been well studied is Fish Oil. Omega 3 and now new to the market Omega 7 has shown to be of benefit for many health factors. Omega 3 is well researched and there are over 20,000 published scientific reports that support its health benefits, including that are cardiovascular health. Fish oil has been shown to reduce serum triglyceride levels. A recent report on Omega 7 shows in a double blind placebo controlled study with 60 subjects and a baseline C Reactive Protein (inflammatory marker) at 2-5mg/L showed a 44% drop in CRP. You can look for Omega 3’s and will find them in most health food stores. On a side note, Metagenics has some serious research behind the Omega 7 and has combined the 3+7 in a formula rightfully called Mega 10. You can find Mega 10 at Forward Health.

 From the heart and mind of your local naturopathic doctor, Dr. Laura M. Brown ND.

References available upon request.