Metabolic Syndrome is an umbrella term that encompasses the following conditions – HEART DISEASE, DIABETES, HIGH CHOLESTEROL, HIGH BLOOD PRESSURE & OBESITY. But what are the causes? In this issue we will look at fats and sugars – what’s healthy and what’s a health disaster.
Remember this guy?
Morgan Spurlock, star of his own documentary Supersize Me, where he ate only McDonald’s food for a whole month, just to see what effect it would have on his health. After 3 weeks the doctors described this formally healthy young man’s liver to be like that of a life long alcoholic. They begged him to stop what he was doing, concerned he wouldn’t survive the month. He did, just, but it took him a couple of years to fully recovered his health. The doctors were perplexed. They could not understand what it was in this food that could cause such devastating damage to health in such a short space of time. Today however we do understand. He consumed such vast amounts of the two biggest chronic disease perpetrators of our time, that it nearly killed him. Which two? Refined sugar and highly processed vegetable oils.
Ok, let’s get one thing clear from the start. Vegetable oils as a food group are not bad. It’s what we do to them that creates a health disaster. To understand why, we need a quick look at fat/oil biochemistry. It’s pretty simple stuff so hear goes. ‘Saturated’ fat means all the C – carbon atoms in the molecule are saturated with H – hydrogen atoms. \’Unsaturated\’ means one or more carbon pairs are missing hydrogens, creating a site where electrons – negatively charge – are in excess. Now this is the crux. A saturated fat’s carbon chain is electrically inert – no excess of charge. An unsaturated fat’s however is negatively charged and therefore electrically reactive. AND the more unsaturated bonds it has the more reactive it is.
Guess what?! Vegetable oils are all unsaturated fats with 1, 2 and sometime 3 unsaturated sites, so they can be VERY chemically reactive to anything, including light, heat and air. Making them a food to handle with kid gloves and a good dose of respect.
Oils – Treat with Reverence
So liquid oils are delicate. Should be kept in dark glass bottles and stored in the cool and not cooked with! But we do exactly the opposite, because we’ve been told to!
Ok, let’s just clarify at this stage. Saturated fats (solid at room temp) are safe to heat up because they are inert. Their links to heart disease have been disproved and if you are high heat cooking these are the safe fats to use. Roasting potatoes – goose fat, stir fry – coconut oil.
Mono-unsaturated fats like extra-virgin olive oil and virgin sesame oil have just 1 unsaturated site and are naturally high in antioxidants. So these oils are protected sufficiently for brief low heat cooking like frying onions to make a stew.
Poly-unsaturated fats are the ones to treat with kid gloves. This includes all other vegetable oils, sunflower, rapeseed, hemp and flax oils. These should only be used if extra-virgin/cold pressed. And should never be heated!!
Is this Food?
Cheap vegetable oils have been solvent extracted, deodorized and bleached to stabilize their biochemistry. They are more like something you would put in your car than food. When heated to high temperatures in an oven or fryer these oil are destroyed further, end up as poisonous derivatives – a serious crime against health.
The overall effect of these toxic fats on the body is to put a massive stress on the liver and the body’s detoxification systems, knocking out the blood lipid balance (otherwise known as ‘high cholesterol’) and worst of all causing inflammation. This all contributes to metabolic syndrome.
Where we are going really wrong is that we are consuming a lot of these poisonous fats, and none or very little in the way of healthy fats. Fats are an absolutely essential part of our diet. It’s making sure we eat the right one – unrefined. Extra virgin – olive oil, cold pressed coconut, flax and hemp oils are all health giving fats that help keep the body in balance and the weight off. Yes healthy fats help you loose weight!
So what is it that causes weight gain more than anything else?
Sugar, sugar, sugar. How we love it, but oh how it’s bad for us. White sugar, which is just one type of sugar is called sucrose, which is 50% glucose and 50% fructose. But what we really want to know is what happens to these sugars in the body? Glucose, seen as the perpetuator of diabetes, is actually fuel for every cell of the body and therefore essential to life. However our bodies are not designed to cope with the quantities of refined sugar that we eat. In a bid to cope, the body works hard through the action of insulin to store glucose. But any excess is converted to FAT. Fructose, on the other hand, is not an energy source for the body and must be processed entirely by the liver. It is metabolised very much like alcohol. Here we start to get a clue as to what happened to Morgan Spurlock’s liver! The liver uses a little bit of fructose as fuel, but the rest is turned into FAT, which along with the fat from excess of glucose, ends up causing a fatty liver and is laid down as visceral fats – around our internal organs – well documented as being a serious danger to health. What’s more, two by products of the conversion of fructose to fat cause firstly high blood pressure and secondly insulin resistance. Insulin resistance means insulin is blocked in it’s attempts to safely store glucose, therefore increasing blood glucose.
High levels of glucose and insulin in blood, an exhausted pancreas, a fatty liver, excess visceral fat, general inflammation, high cholesterol, high blood pressure and a high toxic load are the recipe of metabolic syndrome…
The bottom line. If you want to avoid or heal metabolic syndrome, remove refined vegetable oils and refined sugar (watch out for high fructose corn syrup) from your diet and replace them with healthy fats and oils and whole food carbohydrates.
If you would like more information or help with any health issues then please ask in store or contact me directly.
Living Food Nutritionist