September 1, 2013
Despite being vilified for many years, dietary fats are one of the 3 main nutrients that your body needs to function properly. Their numerous health benefits include controlling blood levels of cholesterol and glucose, preventing the development of cancer, reducing your heart disease risk and supporting your vital organs (including your brain, your heart, your liver and your lungs). However, due to the popularity of low fat diets and the untrue assertion that dietary fat is automatically stored as body fat, many people choose to eliminate this macronutrient from their diet. Doing this can be extremely damaging to your health and in this article I will be discussing why with 14 of the negative symptoms of dietary fat deficiency.
1) CANCER:– Cancer is a condition where the cells of the body start to grow in a rapid, uncontrollable way. Monounsaturated fats and omega 3 essential fatty acids (EFAs) have been linked with the prevention of breast cancer, colon cancer and prostate cancer. Being deficient in these types of fat removes this protection and increases your cancer risk.
2) DIABETES:– Diabetes is a condition where the body struggles to control blood glucose levels. This causes damage to the blood vessels and a number of vital organs. In a 1994 study published by the British Nutrition Foundation it was found that Alaskans who consumed seal oil (which is rich in omega 3 EFAs) were 20% less likely to contract diabetes which suggests a deficiency may increase your diabetes risk.
3) FAT SOLUBLE VITAMIN DEFICIENCY:– Foods that are rich in dietary fats (particularly monounsaturated fats) are also an excellent source of fat soluble vitamins. In addition to this, polyunsaturated fats support the absorption of fat soluble vitamins. Reducing your dietary fat intake significantly can cause you to become deficient in these essential vitamins which can lead to a number of unpleasant symptoms including anemia (a low red blood cell count), vision problems, weak bones and skin problems.
4) FATTY LIVER:– Polyunsaturated fats reduce the deposit of fatty droplets on the liver. However, failing to consume enough of these important fats can have the opposite effect and lead to fatty liver.
5) GROWTH PROBLEMS:– Both saturated fats and omega 6 EFAs support the development of strong healthy bones. Being deficient in either of these fats can inhibit bone development and cause growth problems.
6) HAIR, NAIL AND SKIN PROBLEMS:– Polyunsaturated fats promote the formation of healthy hair, nail and skin cells. Not getting enough can have an adverse effect on your skin and lead to problems such as acne, dermatitis (inflammation of the skin), psoriasis (a skin disease which causes dry, red, scaly patches to develop) and wrinkles. It can also affect your hair and nails leading to dry hair, hair loss and impaired nail growth.
7) HEART DISEASE:– Despite claims that low fat diets are good for your heart, the latest research suggest the opposite is true. Cutting fats from your diet leads to atherosclerosis (hardening of the arteries), increases triglyceride levels and also reduces your blood levels of high denisty lipoprotein (HDL) cholesterol (a type of cholesterol which removes plaques from the artery walls). Both atherosclerosis and low HDL cholesterol restrict the flow of blood to your heart whilst high triglyceride levels have also been linked with an increased heart disease risk.
8) HIGH BLOOD PRESSURE:– High blood pressure is a condition which can damage your blood vessels and vital organs. It also increases your risk of a heart attack or a stroke. Regular consumption of omega 3 EFAs can lower blood pressure whilst not getting enough can have the opposite effect and lead to high blood pressure.
9) INFLAMMATION:– Both monounsaturated fats and polyunsaturated fats reduce inflammation in the body. Failing to eat enough of these fats can lead to a number of inflammatory disorders including arthritis.
10) MACULAR DEGENERATION:– Macular degeneration affects many people as they get older. Omega 3 EFAs are used by your body to create retinal tissue and can combat age related macular degeneration. Failing to consume adequate omega 3 EFAs has the opposite effect and increases your chances of macular degeneration as you age.
11) MENTAL PROBLEMS:– Omega 3 EFAs support the production of signal pathways in your brain and also act in a protective capacity. Failing to consume enough can lead to a number of mental problems including Alzheimer’s disease (a mental disorder which leads to loss of memory, thought and speech), attention deficit disorder (a mental disorder characterised by a short attention span and disruptive behaviour), autism (a mental disorder which causes problems with communication), depression, dyslexia (a mental disorder which makes it difficult to read and write) and schizophrenia (a mental disorder which causes split personalities).
12) MULTIPLE SCLEROSIS:– Multiple sclerosis is a nerve disorder where the protective myelin sheath that surrounds certain nerve fibres is lost. It can lead to depression, impaired mobility, muscular weakness and vision problems. Population studies suggest that rates of multiple sclerosis are lowest amongst populations who consume lots of omega 3 EFA rich fish. For example, virtually none of the Eskimos in Greenland suffer from multiple sclerosis. Contrastingly, populations that are deficient in omega 3 EFAs have much higher rates of multiple sclerosis.
13) POSSIBLY INTERFERING WITH HORMONE LEVELS AND IMMUNE RESPONSES:– Fat is a key part of cell membranes and the brain. Consuming extremely low levels of dietary fats may affect the health of these structures and therefore interfere with hormone release and immune responses.
14) STROKE:– A stroke is a condition where the flow of blood to the brain is interrupted (either through a blockage or burst blood vessel) leading to a lack of oxygen in the brain. This results in the death of brain and nerve cells which can then cause memory, movement and speech impairments. High blood pressure is one of the major contributors to a stroke and as discussed above omega 3 EFA deficiencies cause an increase in blood pressure.
As you can see dietary fat deficiencies are bad news. They can damage your brain and your heart, increase your blood pressure and put you at risk of developing a number of nasty health conditions. To avoid any of the negative symptoms in this article you should ensure that a minimum of 15% of your daily calories come from dietary fats. Dairy products, fish, meat and nuts are all excellent sources of dietary fat so make sure your diet is rich in these foods.