First of all, your body needs fat in order to survive. It is an essential macronutrient that has a terrible rap. We live in a fat fearing culture. But why are we so afraid of fat? Your body needs fat as it is essential to help manage your moods, produce sex hormones, fight fatigue and control your weight. Healthy fat is vital for fertility and proper brain development of your baby. The Standard American Diet (SAD) that is consumed by a large portion of our population lacks the essential fats for optimal health and is full of fats that diminish our health.
There are 3 myths about fat that I would like to address:
1. All fats are equal and equally bad for you.
All fats are not the same. There are goods healthy fats that promote health and need to be part of a healthy diet and bad unhealthy fats that wreak havoc on our health. Let’s dive deeper into different types of fat.
Also known as t-fat, hydrogenated oil or partially hydrogenated oil. Hydrogenation is a chemical process that makes unsaturated oils, solid at room temperature. Trans fats are widely used in packaged foods, fast foods and baked goods. Legally food items can be labelled as trans-fat-free if they contain less than 0.2 grams per serving. So, if your box of cookies lists 2 cookies as a serving and zero trans fats, it doesn’t mean that they are not in there. This deceptive marketing is greatly impacting our health. Do we even know what amount of trans fats are safe?
Eating trans fats can affect your fertility. Trans fats interfere with cell receptors that affect glucose metabolism leading to inflammation and insulin sensitivity. Such factors, affect fertility in women with polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS).
Rancidity means that fats have become oxidized. When oxygen molecules make their way into the structure of the fatty acid, changing its shape, function and structure. Unsaturated fats are more susceptible to rancidity when exposed to heat or light. Thus, I don’t advise purchasing oils that are in a clear bottle or cooking with unsaturated fats over high heat (i.e. olive oil). Heating oils that are susceptible to rancidity destroys antioxidants and creates dangerous free radicals. While there is more to free radicals, simply they create oxidative stress that damages cells. They affect the whole body including the reproductive tract. Free radicals lower egg quality and inhibit the secretion of progesterone which is needed for implantation. Studies have shown that oxidative stress from free radicals affects infertility by playing a role in endometriosis and possibly polycystic ovarian syndrome.
Our bodies need saturated fats as 60% of our brains are made of mainly saturated fat. Yes, you read that correctly 60%. Saturated fats also facilitate hormone production. One study found that women who ate less saturated fat had a lower chance of conception. Foods that contain saturated fat such as grass-fed butter are also rich in fat-soluble vitamins -A, D, E, & K, that help to improve egg quality and reproductive health. Types of saturated fats I recommend for cooking are grass-fed butter, ghee and virgin coconut oil.
Are you worried that consuming saturated fats is detrimental to your heart? Saturated fats have been proven to have no relevance in the area of cardiovascular risk. A recent study showed that eating more saturated fat actually lowered cardiovascular risk. It is the replacement of saturated fats with sugar that has resulted in a decrease in health nationwide.
Monounsaturated fatty acids (MUFA) are liquid at room temperature and begin to solidify when refrigerated. Types of MUFA include almond, avocado, cashews, extra-virgin olive oil, hazelnuts and pecans. Research has shown that increasing MUFA will increase fertility and healthy pregnancy. Additionally, a diet rich in MUFA has been linked to higher odds of having a live birth after IVF (in-vitro fertilization) by 3 times. Furthermore, when avocados are added to your diet they not only provide MUFA but fibre to decrease the effect on blood glucose.
Your body can not make polyunsaturated fatty acids (PUFA) and they are known as essential fats or EFA’s. the ideal ratio of omega 3 to omega 6 is 1:1. However, there is an unbalance as the standard American diet is typically 1:20, respectively. This unbalance of omega 3 fatty acids have been linked to decreasing fertility in women over 35 years of age. Consumption of PUFA may affect various stages of reproduction, ovarian steroid synthesis, egg maturation, uterine activity, pregnancy and labour. Additionally, omega 3 fatty acids help the body regulate hormones and help your cycle to normalize. Therefore, it is important to consume these fatty acids in a more favourable ratio by increasing your consumption of omega 3 fatty acids. Omega 3 fatty acids are anti-inflammatory and are mainly found in fish such as albacore tuna, herring, lake trout, mackerel, sardines and salmon.
2. Fat-free means healthy
As you can see, our bodies require fat in our diet for a variety of natural processes. To live an optimal life, you require dietary fat. Low-fat diets are not only unsatisfying but they’re decreasing your reproductive health. Eating low-fat affects your ovulation and lowers your levels of progesterone. Research has found that eating more dietary fat increased fertility by 38%. Additionally, another study has demonstrated that women who consume low-fat diets may have a higher risk of infertility. Fats are required for sex hormone production and hormone balance that is essential for conception.
3. Eating a low-fat diet is the key to weight loss
This statement really frustrates me. I am living proof that the opposite is true. I followed a ketogenic diet while losing 130 pounds! What is ketogenic? It is a high fat/ low carbohydrate diet that puts your body into an evolutionary natural state of ketosis. During ketosis, ketones are metabolized instead of glucose for fuel when there is an absence of carbohydrates. The diet typically consists of 70% fat, 25% protein and 5% carbohydrate.
That being said, you don’t need to follow a ketogenic diet for weight loss. It is possible with a balanced diet that includes healthy fats. Focusing on a healthy weight for your body type is the real key. Why is weight loss important for fertility? Excess body fat produces estrogen leading to estrogen dominance. This means your reproductive hormones are out of balance and that conception will be harder to achieve. On the flip side, too little body fat actually hinders fertility as well. Women who are underweight may take a significantly longer time to conceive than those of a healthy weight. The female body requires a minimum fat mass for maintaining menses and ovulatory function. When your body is in balance, your fertility increases and your ability to have a happy healthy baby is greater.
Your Healthy Fat Guide
Extra Virgin Olive Oil
Freshly Ground Flax Seeds
Organic Hemp Seeds
Raw Nuts & Seeds (stored in the refrigerator to prevent rancidity)
Virgin Coconut Oil
Wild- Caught Fish (Albacore Tuna, Herring, Lake Trout, Mackerel, Sardines, Salmon)
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