The title of this article may be a bit off-putting, as the popular conception of fat is that it is evil and should be cut from your diet completely. However, that notion is untrue. Fat is an important aspect of your diet, and it is necessary for maintaining optimum health and encouraging the proper function of your body. However, too much fat in your diet can obviously be detrimental. The key is learning how to balance healthy amounts of fat with other nutrients in your diet in order to avoid experiencing negative side effects of too little fat.
Why Fat is Important
Maintaining a healthy fat intake is critical for several reasons. One of the main reasons dietary fat is important is because it plays a necessary role in helping your intestines to absorb essential vitamins and nutrients, specifically fat-soluble ones like vitamins A, D, E and K. In addition, consuming sufficient amounts of fat provides your body with fuel to produce energy, regulate body temperature and insulate your organs. The cells in your body are all dependent upon fat to function properly and maintain structural strength; dietary fat is also critical for supporting the development of your brain, strengthening your hair and skin and controlling inflammation and normal blood clotting. Out of the two types of fat—saturated and unsaturated—the one that tends to raise your LDL (“bad”) cholesterol and contribute to health problems when consumed excessively is saturated fat; however, your body needs a balance of both fats, albeit from healthy sources. Unsaturated fats are essential in lowering LDL cholesterol and reducing blood triglycerides while promoting a healthy heart. Not receiving enough fat in your diet may manifest through a variety of symptoms.
Signs Your Diet May Be Lacking Fat
- You're gaining weight and/or starving all the time.
While you might think that weight gain is attributed to an excess
of dietary fat, the opposite can be true. Skimping on dietary fat can cause you to unintentionally load up on sugars and carbohydrates—which many fat-free foods are often rich with—in an attempt to appease your body's natural need for fat, which can make you pack on the pounds. Fat also provides satiety, so if your hunger is not quelled, then it's only natural that you'll want to eat more until you feel full.
If you usually have normal, healthy skin but suddenly it's gone Sahara Desert dry on you, dwindling fat levels may be to blame. Dietary fat is needed for providing support for oil-producing glands, which help hydrate your skin and hair. Additionally, a lack of fat can make it difficult for your body to absorb vitamins and other nutrients that help maintain the health of your skin.
Without fat, your body has nothing to insulate your vital organs and keep your body temperature regulated, therefore contributing to your constant shivering and ice-cold feeling.
- You're feeling tired, depressed and having memory problems.
Fat is a natural source of fuel for energizing your body, so without it you might feel sluggish and tired. Neurotransmitters in your brain also require support from fat, including omega-3 and omega-6, and without it you might experience depression or a dip in your typically good mood. A study
from the journal Neurology
also suggests that diets with not enough fat may contribute to cognitive impairment, negatively affecting memory.
How to Manage Your Fat Intake Healthily
If you've totally wiped out any trace of fats from your diet, then you definitely should start incorporating some. However, if you currently eat a normal, balanced diet—including fats—it's important to make sure you don't overload on them. Moderation is the key to a good diet, and your body needs both saturated and unsaturated fats to function properly. One gram of fat contains 9 calories, and according to the Mayo Clinic, you should limit your daily fat intake to 20-35 percent of your daily calorie consumption.
Here are some food sources of essential fats to keep you on the path to great health:
These types of fat are typically considered healthy and should be included as a regular part of your diet, though in moderate amounts, as with everything. Some of the best sources of the polyunsaturated fats omega-3 and omega-6 are vegetable oils, fatty fish, flaxseed, soybeans and walnuts. However, if you are pregnant or breastfeeding you should talk to your doctor about the proper amount of fish you should consume.
While not inherently bad, these fats can quickly contribute to weight gain, high LDL cholesterol and heart problems if not consumed carefully and in moderation. However, saturated fats are needed for producing important hormones in our bodies. Eggs, dark chocolate, certain meats, cheese, dairy and other animal products are sources of saturated fat that you can enjoy but not excessively.
Maintaining healthy levels of fat plays a paramount role in the proper functioning of your body and the state of your overall health. The aforementioned symptoms of a low dietary fat intake may also be signs of other medical issues, so it's always a good idea to have a checkup with your doctor if you're experiencing anything out of the ordinary. Take advantage of all of the wellness essentials we have at eVitamins and start living a healthier life today!