I sing the praises of healthy fats because every cell membrane in your body is made up of it. Healthy fats reduces cravings, improves brain function, keeps hormones humming and helps us absorb vitamins A, D, E and K. In 2015, the Dietary Guidelines Advisory Committee reversed restrictions on avoiding cholesterol and instead recommends limiting added sugars.
The caveat is that not all fats are created equal. Consuming the wrong kind creates oxidative stress and free radicals which contributes to inflammation and damages our cells.
Gut Health and Fats
A high fat diet may be beneficial in some disorders, such as epilepsy, but can be harmful to the gut. If a high fat diet is consumed without the benefit of a high fiber and plant based diet then the amount and variety of beneficial gut bacterial is reduced. Maintaining and encouraging healthy gut bacteria is essential for anyone suffering from gut issues, weight gain, depression and anxiety. The important point is too much fat. You need fat but when you are replacing vegetables with fat bombs and smearing coconut oil on everything are not helping your gut.
The liquid/solid fats I recommend are:
Cold Pressed Organic Extra Virgin Olive Oil
Unrefined Avocado Oil
Unrefined Organic Coconut Oil
Red Palm Oil (sustainably harvested)
Ghee (butter with the milk solids removed)
Consuming saturated fat is a controversial topic, one yet to have a conclusion. I still recommend using them to cook at higher heat since they are less likely to oxidize (ghee is a good example) and to flavor your food.
Olive oil is my preferred oil because it is high in omega 3 and it contains polyphenols (chemicals found in plants) which have beneficial effects on the gut and immune system. Only use olive oil when cooking in low to medium heat, such as under 350 degrees F.
Olive oil is big business and therefore some of it shipped to the US may be “fake”. As recently as February 2017 Italy arrested 33 mafia suspects for exporting adulterated olive oil. Yikes! The best way to avoid this is to buy cold pressed, extra virgin, organic olive oil and look for a seal of authenticity. Also make sure there isn’t dust on the bottle and it hasn’t past the expiration date. Truth in Olive Oil has great tips on how to buy olive oil.
Whole food fats I recommend are:
Avocado (1/8th of whole for low-FODMAP)
Nuts and Seeds (cashew and pistachio are high-FODMAP)
Ground Flax and Chia Seeds
Lactose-free Whole Milk Kefir
Fats To Avoid
Basically avoid all other fats not mentioned.
Sunflower Seed Oil
Rice Bran Oil
Processed vegetable and seed oils are harshly extracted, deodorized and bleached rendering them highly damaging. These oils are found in almost all packaged foods, even so called “healthy” ones like organic gluten free crackers or bars. They are used in restaurants and grocery store delis, I even find in used at Whole Foods Market.
On a personal note my gut is highly sensitive to processed seed oils and dining out is challenging. Before eating in a restaurant call ahead and asks if they use real butter or olive oil. If not bring your own salad dressing, pats of butter or small container of olive oil and send it back to the chef to use. It is a bother but worth it.
Fats are part of a healing diet. To build healthy guts we must pay attention to consuming healthy fats and limiting (or avoiding when you can) the damaging ones.
Wishing you a healthy gut!