Me & Latia

Me & Latia
Partners @ Attitude = Performance

Friday, October 4, 2013

Fats and Inflammation...What You Need To Know

Once thought of as healthy, polyunsaturated oils like safflower, cottonseed, sunflower, corn, peanut and soy, are primarily made up of omega-6 fatty acids. Our diets have an overabundance of omega 6 fats, which creates an unhealthy imbalance. Without enough omega 3 fatty acids to hold omega 6 fats in the proper ratio, the body turns the omega 6 fats into excess arachidonic acid, which is highly inflammatory.

The proper balance of omega 6 fats to omega 3 fats is about 2:1 or 1:1. Unfortunately, most diets (heavy in grains, vegetable oils and grain-fed meat) are out of balance with regard to omega 6 and omega 3 fats. A standard diet often has a ratio of about 20:1, omega 6’s to omega 3’s. A diet this heavy in omega 6 fats increases inflammation in the body.

Unnatural fats and hydrogenated fats, like trans fats, create free radicals that damage healthy cells and trigger inflammation. Trans fats are made by subjecting oils that are highly polyunsaturated to extreme high heat and pressure --to a point where there is a change in its chemical structure making the oil more oxidized and more inflammatory. Then extra hydrogen atoms are added to make it more stable for food preservation. Also, industrial solvents such as hexane are used to extract the last amounts of oil from the soybean or cottonseed, which adds to the inflammatory characteristics of the oil.

While artificial trans fats look chemically similar to their natural fat counterparts, they are far from natural. Eating these types of fats becomes an inflammatory disaster.
These unhealthy trans fats compete with omega 3 fats in our cell membrane (which is made up of fatty acids). When the cell membrane is made up primarily of omega 6 fats and trans fats, the membrane actually becomes less resilient and brittle, which limits the exchange of nutrients. This poorly structured cell cannot fight dangerous invaders effectively, and eventually weakens and dies, often allowing dangerous pathogens to reproduce, unchecked in the body.

Both trans fats and excess omega 6 fats encourage the storage of body fat, especially in the abdomen. Excess belly fat, which can be measured as a waist size of 35 inches or more for a woman and 40 inches or more for a man, means higher levels of inflammation, since abdominal fat produces inflammatory chemicals in the body.

A diet heavy in omega 6 fatty acids actually increases wrinkling and aging of the skin as well leading to more cancerous changes from exposure to the sun. In test subjects, dietary omega 6 fatty acids increased levels of PGE(2), an inflammatory messenger chemical that promoted the growth of pre-cancerous and cancerous skin cell changes.

Fortunately there are several anti-inflammatory fats, which are highly effective in helping our bodies stay younger and fight the effects of aging and inflammation.
Omega-3 fats can include alpha linolenic acids (from flaxseeds, hemp seeds, chia seeds, walnuts and dark green leafy vegetables). ALA’s are a short chain fatty acid that should be converted into the important long chain omega-3 fats, EPA and DHA. For many people on plant based (meatless) diets, the conversion rate is very low, which is why if one chooses to be vegan or vegetarian, at least supplementing with fish oil can be very important.

The anti-inflammatory properties of EPA have been studied at length and proven to fight inflammation and a variety of health issues from depression, to heart disease and cancer.
EPA or Eicosapentaenoic acid is a long chain omega 3 fatty acid found in oily, cold water fish and grass fed meats. It is important to note that grain fed meat and farm-raised fish contain primarily omega-6 fats, and wild-caught fish and grass fed meat contain much higher amounts of anti-inflammatory omega-3 fats.

DHA or Docosahexaenoic acid is another omega 3 fat found in fatty fish and grass fed meats. It is the primary omega 3 fatty acid in the brain and eyes, so an adequate supply of this essential fat is necessary for brain, nerve and eye function. Low levels of DHA are often tied to Alzheimer’s, dementia and other mental illnesses.


Monounsaturated oils like extra-virgin olive oil, oil from most nuts, avocados, and coconuts are rich in polyphenols and antioxidants that fight inflammation.
The anti-inflammatory strength of olive oil rests on its polyphenols. Its anti-inflammatory compounds contain nine different types of polyphenols and more than twenty other anti-inflammatory nutrients. Monounsaturated polyphenols, like those in olive oil, are powerful inhibitors of inflammation.

These oils decrease the production of messaging molecules that signal to increase inflammation. They also contain enzymes that block the action of pro-inflammatory substances in the body. Olive oil especially is known to significantly lower levels of C-reactive protein (CRP), which is a standard medical laboratory test for inflammation—especially in the blood vessels and is a good predictor of heart attacks.

The most effective monounsaturated oils are ‘virgin’ oils meaning they are cold pressed and not heat processed. Heat destroys some of the valuable polyphenols and other nutrients in the oils.
Using monounsaturated fats to control inflammation does not require a large amount. As little as 1 or 2 Tablespoons a day are associated with significant anti-inflammatory benefits. When it comes to extra virgin olive oil, remember that it’s not a great idea to cook with that under high heat. Low to medium heat is okay, but high heat degrades some of the health benefits of olive oil.
Anti-Aging, Anti-Inflammatory Foods, Spices, and Nutrients

Certain spices, herbs and teas contain some very powerful compounds that fight inflammation. Some of the most powerful anti-inflammatory phytochemicals are in these herbs and spices: 

Turmeric, Basil, Thyme, Cloves, Oregano, Sage, Rosemary, Ginger, Cinnamon, Chili Pepper and cayenne.

Some of the spiciest anti-inflammatory additions to a meal are hot peppers--including jalapeños, habeneros, and cayenne peppers. Chili peppers of all types include capsaicin (the hotter the pepper, the more capsaicin it contains), which is a potent inhibitor of a substance in the body associated with inflammation. Capsaicin also helps to raise metabolism and burn fat as well.

Green, white, oolong, and rooibos tea contain potent catechins, bioflavonoids and polyphenols that reduce inflammation and limit free radical production. Drinking 2 cups of these kinds of tea a day can reduce inflammation significantly, as well as adding powerful antioxidants that fight aging and disease.

Collagen is a structural part of skin, membranes and connective tissue in the body. It is a fibrous protein found in skin, bone, cartilage, lung tissue, blood vessels, tendons, and other tissues. Collagen forms a structure under the skin that supports the lower layers of skin. As we age, this connective tissue begins to degrade and the cellular proteins begin to clump together. This process causes wrinkling and sagging skin.

Collagen has been shown to reduce damage to joints, as well as reducing joint pain, tenderness and swelling. A Harvard Medical School study done on the effects of collagen and its ability to reduce inflammation and pain (Dr C Searling, Fresco CA), proved that collagen had very positive benefits in reducing oxidative damage to joints, and reducing pain, tenderness and swelling.

Collagen consists of 15% glucosamine and 15% chondroitin sulphate - two substances that are well known for their beneficial anti-inflammatory properties, particularly in joints. Bone broth and chicken feet contain large amounts of valuable collagen, and including the collagen from these rich sources in the diet can protect your joints as well as your skin. Simmering bones or organic chicken feet to make a delicious broth will help supply you with high quality collagen in your diet.

Vitamin C is one of the nutrients responsible rebuilding and maintaining collagen. And, research suggests that people who don’t get enough vitamin C may have a greater risk of developing arthritis.
Just one more good reason to include vitamin C-rich foods — such as guava, bell peppers (yellow, red, orange, and green), oranges, grapefruits, lemons, limes, strawberries, pineapple, broccoli, tomatoes, kiwi, and cauliflower — as a part of your daily diet. 

Foods High in Anti-Inflammatory Fats (use a variety for max benefit)

Grass fed Meats
Free range, organic eggs
Brazil Nuts (limit to only 3-4 a day to prevent getting too much selenium)
Macadamia Nuts
Extra Virgin Olive Oil
Chia Seeds
Hemp Seeds
Coconut oil
Anti-Inflammatory Herbs, Spices, Teas (use a variety for max benefit)
Green, oolong, white, and black tea
Red rooibos tea (highest antioxidants of all teas)
Herbal teas
Turmeric, Curry

Misc. Anti-Inflammatory Foods
Chocolate (70-75% or more cacao to reduce sugar and maximize antioxidants)
Red or black Grapes
Shiitake mushrooms (and all other mushrooms)
Brussels sprouts
Jalapeño Pepper
Habenero Pepper
Banana Pepper
Chili Peppers
Broth from Chicken Feet
Bone Broth (often forgotten superfood)

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