Why ‘good’ fat is essential for a healthy diet.
This month I am looking at why fat is so important and what that looks like in a healthy diet. The hormone Insulin is a key player here.
A diet which has a good level of healthy fat and not an excessive amount of carbohydrates means the hormone insulin, is well controlled. When this happens, our bodies can derive the energy it needs from both the fat in the diet and from body-fat stores. Fat turns on fat burning and regulates our hunger response; we feel more content after eating, have better energy levels, keep our weight better regulated and feel less pain. In contrast to this when insulin is not controlled, such as when we eat a diet that is dominated by carbohydrates, we produce more of the hormone Insulin. The standard government-recommended food pyramid which has carbs such as rice, pasta and bread at its base is coming under more and more scrutiny as new science reveals that this is not the way to eat healthy.
All ‘carbs’ are converted to glucose, but refined carbs do so at a super-fast rate, acting like rocket fuel in the body. In response to this the body produces more insulin, causing this fuel to be stored as fat. When insulin levels are high it can also lead to inflammatory conditions, such as heart disease, diabetes, fatty liver and arthritis. Insulin also turns ‘off’ fat burning and disrupts our hunger feedback mechanisms.
Basically, too much insulin production caused by a diet too high in carbs, makes us fat, hungry, tired and in pain.
This is why the ‘calories In vs calories Out’ diet-mantra does not work. You may be thinking, but why does the Mediterranean diet work so well? This is because it does not contain refined, junk-food-type carbs that cause insulin to skyrocket, but is dominated by slow burning carbs from lots of vegetables and has good levels of healthy fat, from foods like olive oil, olives and oily fish. In these countries they literally pour lashings of olive oil over their salads and dip their bread in olive oil before eating 😊