Are You Feeding Your Brain Enough Fat?

If you believe that eating fats and oils is a no-no, you might be in for a surprise. Fat is a vital component to a balanced diet and is a requirement in order for the body to function properly. But TOO much or the WRONG fats can be a problem. With all the information out there on how to eat, it’s important to understand not just fads, diets and tips but the actual needs of your body.

Given how many protocols and eating lifestyles purport their benefits and dismiss the science of others, it can be tricky to figure out which combinations of foods are best for our own needs. In fact, it can feel like there’s a new discovery about the best way to eat every week making us question if we’re ‘doing it right’!

Lately it’s the popularity of the Paleo and Keto diets that has turned prevailing knowledge on its head, largely because of the emphasis these protocols place on eating significant quantities of healthy fats.

No matter what eating lifestyle you follow, newer science is showing us that there are more benefits to eating higher quantities of healthy fats than we previously thought. In fact, research is showing that the body is built to use fats as a major source of energy – some evidence even suggests that fat is a better energy source than carbohydrates! It’s a fact that fat is also important to a wide variety of healthy functions in the body.

Good fats:

  • Help build strong cell membranes for individual cells as well as the sheaths surrounding nerves
  • Assist in blood clotting, in muscle movement, and in controlling inflammation
  • Are essential for absorbing certain vitamins and minerals such as vitamins A, D, E, and K, and calcium, chromium, iron, magnesium, and zinc among others.
  • Can promote weight-loss
  • Help encourage blood sugar stability
  • Are a key factor in achieving hormonal balance
  • Play a critical role in brain function, memory, and attention span
  • Have a direct impact on the quality of hair, skin, and nail growth

These reasons should be enough for all of us to realize how important it is to include fats in our nutrition plans.

But I thought fats were bad?

For a long time that was a common way of thinking. The reality is that the reason fats have been stigmatized was because our understanding of how different fats work was still developing – and because we’d been eating too much of the wrong ones!

We understand now that not all fat sources are created equal – just like not all vegetables are equal (just compare iceberg lettuce with it’s dark, leafy counterparts, romaine and spinach). There are different kinds of fats and to make understanding them easier, we like to think of fats as being on a continuum. On one end of the continuum are good fats like monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats and on the other end are bad fats like industrial-made trans fats in processed foods. Saturated fats fall somewhere in the middle.

So which fats should you be eating?

Choosing mostly monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats, followed by a moderate amount of naturally present saturated fats in foods is your best strategy. Bad fats should obviously be avoided – which will probably be easier than you think because they’re mostly present in treats and junk foods that you wouldn’t want to rely on anyway!

Recent studies on Coconut Oil have found it to be useful in the reduction of body fat in the belly as well as helping to reduce Body Mass index (BMI). Just like any other nutrient, consuming a variety of fat sources is key to finding balance in your nutrition. Not only because variety is important in any diet, but because different foods are more than just a kind of fat, they offer different beneficial vitamins, minerals, and fibre too!

10 Source of Healthy Dietary Fat

1. Avocado

2. Cheese

3. Dark Chocolate

4. Whole Eggs

5. Fatty Fish

6. Nuts

7. Chia Seeds

8. Extra Virgin Olive Oil

9. Coconut & Coconut Oil

10. Full Fat Yogurt

We recommend adding fats into your diet slowly, especially if you’ve been avoiding them until now. Digesting anything well, requires that the body has certain underlying requirements met including healthy gut flora and enzyme production. This is true in the case of fats as well. We’ve talked about gut flora at length, but enzymes (like lipase, the enzyme that helps break down and digest fats) are also a vital part of healthy digestion – and are the subject for another time.

Are you eating right for your mind, hormone production or your metabolism? Get out of the “fat free” cycle and into a healthier diet that includes good fats. We have tools to analyze your body’s nutrient needs and can help experience optimal health every day through nutrition that’s ideal for you. Call or email us at 416-234-1888 or wellnessreception@sympatico.ca to book your appointment with one of our naturopathic doctors or nutritionist. 

Yours in good health,

Wellness Institute

Excess Toxins can Affect Your Daily Life and Put Your Health at Risk

Hello, wake up. Spring is here! The beginning of spring is March 21st, the time of the spring equinox, when day equals night.  For the next six months day light, the sun and yang principle, will be dominating our lives. You may now feel a new spark and power and be filled with inspiration and energy to act upon your ideas.  Spring is the green season.  It’s a time for planting. After the rain and snow of winter the seeds begin to sprout from the depths of the soil, trees bud and nature awakens in her green, flowering beauty.  In Chinese medicine spring is the season correlated with gall bladder and liver. Spring is the perfect time of year to ‘spring clean’ your house and to ‘spring clean’ your body.

The human body is a miracle. For all the body’s parts and abilities there are corresponding systems designed to monitor what they’re experiencing and then decide whether what the body is experiencing is beneficial or detrimental so that it can function well and without interruption as a whole. Dr. Rodak, ND states that it is “an amazing piece of engineering design.”

These systems – the circulatory, digestive, endocrine, immune, integumentary (hair, skin, nails), lymphatic, muscular, nervous, reproductive, respiratory, skeletal, and urinary systems are discussed frequently by all of us. In particular, when someone asks how we’re feeling, we usually point to something, a symptom, that’s affecting one or more of these systems because they so readily help us check in on our bodies, giving us a sense of how well we are (or are not) at any given time.

What’s Happening When We’re Not Feeling Well?

When we’re unwell, understanding systemic symptoms can help us to determine where to look for the underlying issues. Sometimes we talk about our skin breakouts, hair thinning or falling out, or nail splitting showing signs of ill health. Or, we might complain of feeling sluggish, heavy, uncomfortable or constipated. Signs like these show us there’s something deeper going on in the body. It’s becomes important to then explore these more deeply, to look to the organs that support our systems and keep them functioning effectively and to take care of them when they’re showing us signs that all is not well.

The organs help the body maintain overall health, and of course organs like the heart, brain, and lungs are responsible for some of the most fundamental functions of life. Without them, well – we wouldn’t be here!  But, the organs do other important jobs as well such as neutralizing and eliminating toxins and irritants. The organs that help most with these functions are the lungs, the skin, the digestive tract, and most importantly: the liver and the kidneys. When you start tracing back the symptoms of sickness to the organs that help keep the body functioning optimally, you can start to see the connections to possible underlying weaknesses and issues.   

How Does the Body Cope When Faced with Toxins and Irritants?

The simple answer – detoxification. One of the things the body is especially good at is sweeping out any toxic elements and chemicals that can compromise overall health. That’s a big part of what our organs are designed to do – and most of the time they do it extremely well!

However, not all toxins are equal and of course there are many factors that can affect how the body responds to them at any given time. Also, toxins don’t come from only one source. In fact, the definition of a ‘toxin’ is surprisingly simple and broad: anything that the body doesn’t find useful or that harms its integrity is toxic to the body. The fact is, we’re combating toxins all the time both internally and externally.

The most common types of toxins we all encounter regularly come from: poor diets and poor digestion, undigested food that ferment in the digestive tract and create an acidic environment in the body, medications, drugs, alcohol and tobacco, environmental toxins like air and water pollution, smoke, pesticides, animal and insect bites, and – more and more – electromagnetic frequency and radiation like from appliances and tools such as microwaves, cell phones, computers, wireless internet, and TVs. Even negative thoughts and emotions if they persist long enough have been shown to be toxic to our bodies because they turn into significant sources of stress – the number one root cause of illnesses. This toxic burden is an inescapable part of modern life, and we know it can sound pretty scary!

When subjected to all of these forms of toxins at once – as most of us are – it’s easy to see how our bodies can become inundated with chemicals from which we need to protect ourselves. It’s also easy to understand why, even though we might be doing everything we can to sustain a healthy lifestyle and keep our toxin-fighting organs in prime condition, our bodies sometimes need help in the battle.

How Do I Know if I’m in Toxic Overload?

As we said before: the body is constantly detoxifying. Day in, day out, all day and all night long! Our organs are designed to do just that to keep us healthy. But, we all experience toxic overload at one time or another. Who hasn’t been super stressed out and fell to a poor diet or more frequent glasses of wine? Who hasn’t experienced an illness that compromised their health to the point where they just don’t seem to get better? These are just some instances when toxic overload makes our organs’ daily battle much harder to win. Sometimes toxins that we experience daily become a combined, overwhelming force while at other times we experience a mixture of toxins in particularly high doses. Ongoing situations like this can lead to chronic toxin overexposure. Learning to identify and properly respond to toxin overload can make a huge difference in our ability to heal from it.

Are you in toxin overload? Ask yourself these questions:   

  1. Do you have persistent brain-fog, lack of focus, mental clarity, or migraines?
  2. Do you have ongoing fatigue, muscle aches or pains, general lack of motivation or feelings of depression that just won’t go away?
  3. Have you noticed an increase in body odour, foul fecal odour, pungent or bad breath? 
  4. Are you experiencing skin reactions or acne in ways you haven’t before?
  5. Have you recently become newly sensitive to chemicals, fragrances, or scents?
  6. Have you developed new allergies of any kind?

These are just some of the common changes you might notice and they’re some of the ways your body is trying to tell you: Help me! I’ve had enough!

When you’re experiencing symptoms like these, it’s the right time to visit our clinic. We want to help you reactivate your body’s natural defence mechanisms so that you can experience optimal health every day. Sometimes, our organs need extra help in their work combatting toxins. We have lots of ways to help you ensure that toxins are kept at bay, and that your organs are happy, healthy, and strong. Call or email us at 416-234-1888 or wellnessreception@sympatico.ca and we’ll be happy to have a detailed consultation with you to find the right pathway to your optimal health.   

Yours in good health,

Wellness Institute