Wellness Pathway #280 Good Fats / Bad Fats

Two and a half years ago I wrote a short Wellness Pathway titled “Eat Healthy Fats“. I followed that up, in January of this year, with a longer Wellness Pathway titled “The Fatty-Acid Balance“. Both Pathways were designed to get you thinking about the fats you consume. It’s not just the quantity that matters, it’s also the quality.

This was, in fact, the first revelation I had back in 1998 after losing 65 pounds and becoming a personal coach. I knew that I could not be on a diet forever. But I could be healthy forever. So I adopted a radically different lifestyle than the one I had had for some 43 years. In this lifestyle, I became engaged in athletic pursuits such as marathons, triathlons, and ultra-marathons. I also became engaged in healthy eating. From washing fruits and vegetables to watching out for unhealthy ingredients, I pay attention to things that will promote vitality, health, and wholeness.

My first revelation was learning about the evils of hydrogenated vegetable oils. Back in 1998, most people knew that saturated fat — found, for example, in butter, cheese, and fatty meat — would clog your arteries if you ate too much. Most people did not know, however, that margarine, shortening, and processed foods were even worse for you. Their artificially created trans-fatty acids are even harder for the body to handle than the naturally created saturated kinds.

This has turned me into a lifelong sleuth for hydrogenated vegetable oils. I read nutrition labels and avoid eating foods that contain them. I do not use margarine or shortening (nor butter or lard) in cooking. I try my best, with occasional exceptions for social situations, to never eat them at all.

In their place, I eat healthy fats containing a high percentage of Omega-3 fatty acids. These come from flax seeds (I eat 2-3 tablespoons of freshly-ground flax seeds daily.), walnuts (They go great on top of tossed salads.), fatty fish (I eat salmon, sardines, mackerel, or black cod at least once a week.), fish oil supplements (I take 1 capsule a day providing 300 mg of EPA and 200 mg of DHA.), and wild game (Bison and venison are two of my favorites.).

The healthy benefits of Omega-3 fatty acids, when consumed in a 1:3 ratio with Omega-6 and other fatty acids, are numerous. They include:

  • Lowered risk and treatment of cardiovascular disease, metabolic syndrome, and inflammatory diseases.
  • Lowered risk and treatment of psychiatric disorders, including depression, schizophrenia, and aggression / hostility.
  • Lowered risk of dementia.
  • Improved gestational length and birth weight in pregnancy.
  • Improved cognitive and visual development in infancy.

Given these known benefits, a recent symposium on Omega-3 fatty acids concluded that males should consume at least 1.6 grams of Omega-3 fatty acids per day and that females should consume at least 1.1 grams per day from marine sources through fish consumption and / or supplementation. That’s because animal sources provide the most metabolically active forms of Omega-3 fatty acids.

The symposium did not point out, however, that the therapeutic value of consuming good fat can be offset and even negated through eating too much other fat. A fish oil capsule is no match for those fatty burgers and fries. As I discovered long ago, it’s both the quantity and the quality of the foods we eat that will assist us to stay vital, healthy, and whole.

Coaching Inquiries: How much attention do you pay to the fats you eat? Do you eat enough of the good fats on a daily basis? What is the ratio of the good fats to the other fats in your diet? How could you eat more of the good fats and less of the other fats? Who could assist you to get going in right direction?

To reply to this Pathway, use our Feedback Form. To learn more about our Wellness Coaching programs and to arrange for a complimentary wellness coaching session, use our Contact Form or Email Bob.

May you be filled with goodness, peace, and joy.

Bob Tschannen-Moran

President, LifeTrek Coaching Internationalwww.LifeTrekCoaching.com
CEO & Co-Founder, Center for School Transformationwww.SchoolTransformation.com
2010-2011 President, International Association of Coachingwww.CertifiedCoach.org

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