Monthly Archives: March 2015

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Cooking Oils

In the health community, we’re told we should use certain oils to cook with over others.  Not many people explain why some oils are better than others.  Instead of taking the ‘everybody knows’ approach such as, processed rapeseed/canola oil is better than real butter? Um, no.

There are many types of cooking oils/fats and their smoke points vary (see image below from BalancedBites).  The smoke point of oils is the temperature when fats begin to breakdown.  Mary Enig, Ph. D., author of Know Your Fats states, “If the collection is liquid at ambient temperature, it’s called an oil; if it is solid, it’s called a fat.” Oils/Fats have a fatty acid composition in the form of Polyunsaturated Fatty Acids (PUFA), Monounsaturated Fats (MUFA), Saturated Fatty Acids (SFA), and other (usually insignificant amounts).Guide to Cooking Fats/Oils
Even though some of these look like great choices for high temperatures based on smoke point, that’s not always the case.  The processing of how these oils are created are a huge factor, as are their stability.

Most of the oils in the infograph, under the red heading, are created by an unnatural chemical process.  The majority seed oils are extracted using a solvent, commonly hexane, after being crushed.  Then they are degummed, neutralized, dewaxed, bleached, filtered, and deodorized.  It’s a very unnatural process.

One of my favorite oils for medium to no heat is cold pressed extra virgin olive oil.  It has a high smoke point, which is good for medium heat (explaining why only medium in next paragraph)… when it’s 100% pure.  Most olive oils are actually cut with lower grade oils (extra source) and reduce their smoke point.  Not only that, but they also can be rancid, which is the taste most Americans are used to.  You should buy olive oil brands that are highly reputable and in a dark glass container.  This makes sure you get a real, non-rancid olive oil.

Rancidity is mostly based on oxidative stability, which shows how resistant the fats are when reacting to oxygen.  Polyunsaturated and monosaturated fats oxidize easier than saturated fats; PUFAs are the most prone to oxidation, followed by MUFAsIn other words, the chemical structure of unsaturated fats are delicate; saturated fats are less delicate and more stable (source).  This is the reason why olive oil should only be used for medium to no heat applications, as olive oil is high MUFAs (see infograph above).

My favorite oil to use for high heat is coconut oil.  As coconut oil is mainly saturated fat, it takes a lot more effort for it to go rancid.

When oils go rancid, they create inflammation in the body.  Inflammation leads to many, many, many health problems (including being easier to sunburn).

Note:  There is varying information about the exact fatty acid makeup of all the oils/fats.  There are all within a few percentages though.

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The Gallbladder

Fats and the GallbladderI used to have gallbladder attacks.  I ate a low-fat diet as directed by doctors (yes, plural).  I continued to have attacks, except more frequently even with the low-fat diet.  I was even told I should have it surgically removed!  I was doing everything the doctors said, why should I have it removed?!

What I didn’t know at the time was this was the wrong advice!  The gallbladder excretes bile when there’s fat to digest.  When there’s no fat to digest, the bile gets sludgy and stones can form.  Usually the stones are in the form of cholesterol, but it’s not by eating cholesterol rich foods which cause cholesterol in the body.  Instead, it’s actually NOT eating cholesterol that causes the body to increase its natural production of cholesterol.  The body panics and creates extra in case of emergency such as a famine. (Reference – Weston A. Price Foundation)

Things that contribute to gallstones are low fat diets, moderate to high carbs (even whole grains), and also low stomach acid.  Contrary to popular belief, much like the gallbladder temporary fix, most people have too low of stomach acid (I’ll do a post on it later).

Studies:

  • In a study of 51 obese people using an extremely low fat low calorie diet (just one gram of fat a day!) the gallbladder was examined by ultrasound before the diet and after one and two months. After one month four of the 51 participants had developed new gallstones. After two months more than one in four (13 people) had new gallstones! This on an almost fat free diet. Three participants needed to have their gallbladder removed during the study.
  • A similar study examined 19 people eating an extremely low fat low calorie diet over 16 weeks. At the ultrasound examination at the end of the study five people (again about one in four) had new gallstones.
  • A third study compared an extremely low fat diet with a diet slightly higher in fat during 3 months. More than one in two (6 of 11 people) in the group eating extremely low fat developed new gallstones. Nobody in the group eating more fat did.

Patients with kidney stones get better advice. They are told to drink a lot of fluid, increasing the production of urine, so that stones do not have time to develop. If you already have kidney stones this advice could give you a painful kidney stone attack initially – but you are still advised to drink a lot.

The reason why we give the opposite advice when it comes to gallstones might be the obsolete fear of fat. If we were afraid of water instead patients with kidney stones might have been advised to avoid drinking to avoid kidney stone attacks. If they did not improve their kidneys would be surgically removed. – (Reference – The Diet Doctor)

If you’ve had your gallbladder removed, you’ll not be able to absorb fat and nutrients as well as if you had it.  That doesn’t mean there’s never a reason to remove your gallbladder, but look for alternatives.

To correct my gallstone issue, I increased my natural fat intake slowly and supported my stomach acid.  By natural fats, I’m speaking of olive oil, coconut oil, avocados, full fat dairy, and saturated animal fats.  Do NOT up your fats by eating burgers, pizzas, doughnuts, french fries, etc.  These are heavy in carbs, trans fats (vegetable and seed oils), and are usually ultra-processed.  It will make things worse.

As a side note: I did have some pain when passing the stones through the ducts, but it wasn’t nearly as bad as the gallbladder attacks blocking the ducts.

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Gut Microbes

Do gut microbes control everything?The gut is the brain of your body, including your actual brain.

Gut microbes are the bacteria (flora) in the gut (mainly large intestines).  Your gut microbes, whether you know it or not, control everything. There is a gut-brain connection (gut-brain axis). It controls everything from your mental health (extra resources 1, 2, 3, 4, 5) and mood (extra resource 1)to your overall physical health. I’ll go as far as to say it has a lot to do with weight (extra resource 1) as well.

When babies are born, they get the first dose of their microflora through the birth canal.  Those born by cesarian section (c-section), lose out on the first start of beneficial bacteria.

Babies, regardless of type of birth type(c-section or natural), are given antibiotics directly (as eyedrops) after their born to prevent gonorrhea, which is no longer an issue for most of the western world. This can wipe out the beneficial bacteria received from the birth canal.

To add to our first dose of microflora, we continue to get the bacteria we need through breast milk.  If the baby is fed formula, it misses out on the additional flora.

If you have too many (good or bad) where it spills over excessively into the small intestines, it’s called Small Intestinal Bacterial Overgrowth (SIBO).  (My SIBO was caused by having fructose malabsorption and LOW stomach acid.)

SIBO has been shown to negatively affect both the structure and function of the small bowel. It may significantly interfere with digestion of food and absorption of nutrients, primarily by damaging the cells lining the small bowel (the mucosa). Additionally, this damage to the small bowel mucosa can lead to leaky gut (when the intestinal barrier becomes permeable, allowing large protein molecules to escape into the bloodstream), which is known to have a number of potential complications including immune reactions that cause food allergies or sensitivities, generalized inflammation, and autoimmune diseases.SIBO – What causes it and why it’s so hard to treat

When you have an bad balance of gut microbes, it’s called dysbiosis.  When your gut controls everything in your body, that’s a big problem.  To add to it, your immune system is 70% in your gut. Your immune system drives your inflammatory response.  Your inflammatory response are proteins called cytokines.  When these proteins get riled up, you have chronic inflammation.  Chronic inflammation can cause weight gain, fatigue, autoimmune conditions, etc.  It all comes back to the gut, even though a lot of people don’t link them together.

I’ve already stated I believe microflora has more to do with weight than ‘calories in vs calories out’.  People who undergo gastric bypass (high risk operation) will lose weight, but not because why most people assume.  It is actually more to do with their gut microbes (extra resources 1, 2).

How do we correct dysbiosis?

I’m still working on that part, as are a lot of people.  Many groups/people recommend taking probiotics.  Probiotics may help, but there are many strains of intestinal bacteria not even found yet.  I think a fecal transplant, as strange as that does sound, is a high probability.

Clostridium difficile (C-Diff) is a life-threatening illness caused by bacteria.  Antibiotics are often prescribed and have a low success rate.  Surgery is also prescribed to remove the infected area.  These routes do not always work and people have died due to them, or their doctors, not wanting to perform a fecal transplant.  It does have risks, but as shown, so do antibiotics.  To loop it back, a woman in England received a fecal transplant for c-diff from her overweight daughter and gained 36 pounds in one year.  This tells me, again, gut microbes have more to do with weight than the flawed ‘calories in vs. calories out’.

I think dysbiosis causes intestinal permeability (leaky gut), which was mentioned in a few of the sources, and both of these are my main obstacle in my quest for better health.  It’s not as easy as cutting out grains and sugars.  I’ve done that.  I drink organic, homemade bone broth.  Nothing has fully recovered me yet, even though I have gotten better, but I believe the key is in the gut.

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