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How To Kick Your Thyroid’s Ass: Think Fatty, Not Faddy Part II, OR, How To Be Nutritionally Deviant

Post Published: 04 October 2009
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Category: How To Kick Your Thyroid's Ass
This post currently has 20 responses. Leave a comment


I still have the jar sitting in my cupboard.   It hasn’t moved since I bought it, and it still hasn’t been opened.   I’m a little intimidated.   It’s a little exotic and I’m not sure what I would do with it, or how it’s going to taste anyway.   Red palm oil,, it’s called; a cooking oil with a dark red tint?,   I picked it up at the health food store only because I’d read a bit about the nutritive benefits (the only oil known to contains vitamins! A & E, among others) and also because I like trying new foods.   Not to mention, it seems a little deviant; you know, laughing in the face of conventional nutrition and buying something so naughty and risqué saturated fat!

Prevailing dietetic rhetoric in this country go something like this: fat is bad.   All fat is bad. Anything that contains any kind of fat is bad, but especially, saturated fats which must be avoided at all costs unless you want high cholesterol, a heart attack and an early grave.,   But many health professionals advocate for the consumption of saturated fat as a positive addition to a healthy diet.   Let’s take a look at why.

If we quickly scan the first “Think Fatty, Not Faddy”  we’ll see that since around the late 1970s or early 1980s, consumers/eaters have traded natural and good fats for highly-processed carbohydrate- and grain-filled foods a  la the low-fat/heart-healthy diet revolution.   Our ratio of fat to carbohydrates has shifted and diabetes is an epidemic.   Grains skyrocket blood sugar and are high on the glycemic index, whereas fats stabilize blood sugar and provide a feeling of satiety.   Blood sugar spikes are implicated in everything from insulin resistance to obesity. Also, dietary fats are required for us to synthesize certain vitamins and for the body to perform certain functions; grains are not a necessary addition to an eating plan (remember “Don’t Be Grainwashed.

Coconut oil* and palm oil are fruit-derived and naturally occurring saturated fats.   Palmitic and lauric acid, found in both oils, are two kinds of saturated fats that are known to increase cholesterol.   Yes, increase.   While this may seem like a drawback and outright proof that saturated fats are bad for us (because, after all no one wants high cholesterol), it actually isn’t: palmitic and lauric acid raise both LDL and HDL cholesterol together and in proportion to each other, which means good things for your cholesterol.   Also, interestingly, saturated fats are found in the breast milk of mammals.   This means, we’re being fed and sustained on saturated fats right from birth.   If this is the case, could they really be so terrible for us later in life?

One study done on a nomadic tribe in Kenya and Tanzania, the Masai, revealed that though the people of the tribe ate diets high in saturated fats (namely from animal sources), they still had the lowest levels of heart disease and cholesterol recorded.   They were lean and in shape.   Perhaps this was due to their nomadic lifestyle, but it cannot be ignored that though their diet high in saturated fat should have potentially set them up for heart disease, it did not.   Once these same peoples went on a “modern” diet, their incidences of disease and heart/cholesterol problems soared.   And this is not an isolated study — it has been confirmed over and over via various researchers that the saturated fat-cholesterol link just isn’t so evident as many people and experts would like to believe.   (For such studies, see the MSNBC article below.)

Still more research has shown that the correlation between fats and high cholesterol or heart disease isn’t due to consumption of saturated fats, but instead, consumption of trans-fatty acids.   Trans-fats (you know, the ones that have been banned in certain cities) are found in processed and premade foods: margarine, vegetable oil, and vegetable shortenings.   These are oils considered hydrogenated, which means they’ve been processed so that they’re solid at room temperature, and therefore extend shelf life of premade and fast foods. Not to mention, many hydrogenated oils/trans-fats are made from soy, and the genetically-modified kind at that, which is something you and I want to avoid due to its goitrogenic properties.  Also, these sorts of fats are linked to inflammation (hello autoimmune disease) and lowered immune system function.

So the moral of the story is this: some fats are good, and some fats are not good.   Some research and experts find saturated fat to be a good and essential part of a healthy diet.   It is controversial; it is risqué; and it if you buy into it like I do, it will make you nutritionally deviant (how sexy!).   Saturated fat has never been definitively proven to be a culprit in heart disease and high cholesterol — it has been assumed and implicated and we’ve created entire diet systems around the notion. By examining those cultures who rely mainly on saturated fats, we see that they have drastically lowered rates of “associated” diseases and conditions — just the opposite of what we’re told should result.   What this goes to show is that one isolated “component” of our modern diet is not the sole disease-promoting culprit.   Instead, what’s important and indeed, what is the best wellness-promoter, is a wholly-healthy approach to life that includes from-the-ground eating.   Eating natural foods, even if they are high in saturated fat (coconut oil, palm oil), is healthy.   Fake, substitute, low-fat, saturated-fat-free, genetically-modified foods simply can’t compare, nutritionally, to those things that nature grows herself.

Adding saturated fats to your diet isn’t so difficult.   Simply switch to coconut or palm oil for your roasting, sautéing, or for salad dressings and homemade condiments, or baking.   And I’ve gotta admit, for sake of realism (I pretend to be a method writer), I just cracked open the palm oil and took a scoop.   Like I said, it’s pretty intimidating — a bright red cooking oil — but it has a mild taste.   It’s earthy and smoky tasting and reminds me of a light sesame oil.   I’ll try it in cooking this week and update you via the liver detox blog.  Speaking of which, how is everyone’s liver this week?,   Today marks one week for me on this program and I will be posting a blog in a bit on how it’s been for me and what results I’m noticing.

*Note that coconut oil is thyroid-stimulating and therefore may not be a good idea for those with hyperthyroidism. You can read more about the thyroid-stimulating effects of coconut oil here and here.

Until Next Week,

Love Always,

Liz

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Have a question, comment, story, love letter, or rant/rave to send me?: Liz@DearThyroid.com,

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20 Responses to “How To Kick Your Thyroid’s Ass: Think Fatty, Not Faddy Part II, OR, How To Be Nutritionally Deviant”

  1. Alexia Dunay says:

    I cook with coconut oil..

  2. amy says:

    I really want to try coconut oil…just waiting on some more funds! I think it will be beneficial to me b/c of having insulin resistance. Liz, it stimulates thyroid function?! Interesting. I cook w/ olive oil now and occasionally use butter. Is butter a good saturated fat? Thanks again for the info!

  3. thy_r88gous says:

    Liz,
    All hyperT’s should avoid coconut correct?

  4. anita says:

    first off, coconut oil rocks. and it’s good!! wish i could find it here. i love how many ppl are beginning to glean an understanding of how this all works, hey, me included! since i changed tactics, decided to acceded to the docs voice telling me that gluten does NOT work for me, wow. i’ve cleaned up my act and it shows. i think our bodies WANT to work for us. they try. we just have to put premium fuel into them and it happens. eat from the ground up is perfect. like my friend said: “if someone offers you an orange, you shouldn’t have to ask, orange what?”

  5. Robyn says:

    I just want to add (without having had a chance to really look at those links yet), that if you are going to consume RAW dairy–make sure that your source is reputable. Raw dairy can be contaminated with Listeria bacteria–not just harmful, frequently fatal. In fact, raw milk is illegal to sell in many states.

  6. Robyn says:

    http://www.fda.gov/safety/recalls/default.htm
    You can tailor your updates based on medical, food, etc.

  7. kay says:

    It’s so refreshing to read something more informed for a change. I’ve come across many who freak out and turn their heads immediately after seeing the word ‘SATURATED FAT’… Palm oil is scientifically proven to be healthy oil. It has no cholesterol and contains extremely high antioxidants and almost 30times more carotene than carrots. As for the much feared saturated fats… it has already been proven many times in the past 5 years that it’s the only type of oil you should cook with as it doesn’t change molecular shape when you heat it, hence it isn’t carcinogenic in the long run.

    Here’s an article by Chef Rachel Matesz on the oils we should use and also a simple experiment we could try at home to see some vegetable oil turn into plastic:
    http://www.palmoilconsumer.com/Palm-Oil-And-Health/Good-Vegetable-Oils.aspx

    This link contains about everything you need to know about palm oil:
    http://www.palmoilconsumer.com/Palm-Oil-And-Health/Red-Palm-Oil-and-Your-Carotene-Needs.aspx

  8. Zari says:

    This is nice to think about. Not that I want to cook with coconut oil, but because I used to really like to eat coconuts. And I figure just eating the coconut is probably even better for you than the oil alone.

    The mainstream nutritionists say keep fats below 30% of your caloric intake. That’s still a lot of fat. But somehow less than 30% became zero in our minds. At this point it might be good to point out that brain and nerve cells are made of fat, and that many vitamins are fat soluable.

    The supermodel types with 3% body fat are actually pretty unhealthy. I had a friend who was an ultramarathoneer and her body fat was at about 2%. She needed surgery and the doctor said he didn’t want to operate until she got her body fat up to about 5% minimum.

    Our societal dysfunction with this sort of thing is well summed up by the description of America as the place where the poor are fat and the rich are thin……

    Zari

  9. Zari says:

    Yeah, so if I go low fat, low carb, no animal protein, where does that leave me? Binging on soy, which would fuck up my thyroid (if I had one) and probably a bunch of other stuff if I ate that much of it.

    Truthfully I suspect that even the “bad”fats found in red meat are not so bad for you in moderation. It’s just that as Americans we are not moderate. We either do too much or too little. We search for the wonder food that will cure all our ills all by itself if we just eat huge amounts of it. Or the villian that must be eliminated. I don’t eat a lot of refined sugar and transfat or for that matter much processed food except for pasta and tomato sauce. But just about every food has something bad about it. All those goitrogenic foods like broccoli, or for that matter the oxalic acid in spinach and chard, or the cyanide in apple seeds and almonds.

    What we have to learn is that their is no substitute for eating moderate amounts of food, probably in a good variety, with most of it being the basically good stuff- fruits, vegies, plant fats with some fish or animal for those of us who aren’t vegetarian, and avoid most of the cookies, cakes, donuts, and mcdonalds stuff that our body tells us is so good because our body is even more confused than our thyroid gland. It honestly believes, based on about 100,000 years of irrefutable evidence and history, that famine is just around the corner and our best bet is to fatten up today so we can outlive the skinny people and as a last resort eat their corpses. Well, body, you’re wrong.

    Great post Liz. Thanks

    Zari

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