What Is a High-Fat Diet?

Ours is a culture obsessed with weight and fat, and we are inundated with information about fat in our food. First, it's recommended that no fat or low fat will help us lose pounds and keep us healthy. Then we read about low-carb diets, because it is simple carbs that put the fat on, eating fats is okay. You need the real truth about fats to keep a healthy diet.

Fats are called lipids and are stored under your skin. Fats are an important part of a balanced diet. They help your body function well by keeping joints lubricated, provide Chemicals needed by your body for proper development, help with absorption of fat-soluble vitamins (A, D, E, K), and are an energy source. And fats make food taste good. Fats are numerous; fatty acids and glycerol are naturally found in whole foods, such as eggs, nuts, and meats. Fats are also added to processed foods. There are two types of fat: saturated fats are solid, such as butter, margarine, and lard; and unsaturated fats are liquid, like vegetable and fish oils. Unsaturated fats can be partially saturated through hydrogenation, and turned into products like margarine.

Much research is being conducted on the connection between diets that are high in saturated fats and disease. Saturated fats have been linked to increased levels of fatty acids in the blood, which increase the risk for heart disease and for developing high cholesterol. High-fat diets may cause weight gain or obesity, which puts a strain on physical health, thereby making it more difficult to handle the mental and physical aspects of stress, which may lead to chronic anxiety or an anxiety disorder.

Reducing Fat in Your Diet

Many processed foods contain saturated fats, so read labels carefully. Experts suggest that the best advice on fats is as follows: fats should be no more than 30 percent of your diet, use unsaturated fats as much as possible, use processed foods sparingly, choose lean sources of protein like chicken, fish, and soy, trim excess fat off meats, skim soups, etc.

Preservatives and Additives

Thousands of Chemicals are added to food to prolong shelf life, maintain texture of food, prevent spoilage, enhance flavor, and add nutritional value to processed foods. Additives include the following:

  • Preservatives: Prevent spoilage and bacteria from developing, and oils from turning rancid.

  • Dyes/coloring: Used to make food more attractive. Used in hundreds of foods, such as soft drinks, candy, and bread.

  • Sweeteners: Includes saccarin, aspartame, sugar. Found in thousands of processed foods, such as desserts, soft drinks, and junk foods.

  • Flavor enhancers: Almost all processed food contains flavor enhancers, which are called free glutamates, the most common being monosodium glutamate (MSG).

  • Vitamins and minerals: Replace nutrients lost by processing; include vitamins, such as Vitamin D added to milk, and iodine added to table salt.

  • Emulsifiers, stabilizers, and thickeners: Improve texture and consistency; include pectin and gelatin. Found in sauces and salad dressings.

  • Acids and alkalis: Acids, such as citrus acid, are added to foods to increase tartness; alkalis decrease the acidity in foods.

Allergies to Preservatives

It is estimated that more than 75 percent of the Western world's diet is made up of processed foods. Many people have “reactions” to preservatives or additives, and decades of research have proven that food additives BHA, BHT, MSG, and nitrates are linked to a number of physical and mental conditions, which include: anxiety, depression, headaches/migraines, skin rashes, sleep disturbances, and hyperactivity in children. The additives' reactions range from mild rashes, to upset stomachs. More serious conditions can occur like asthma and irritable bowel syndrome (IBS). A life-threatening anaphylactic episode may occur that can cause symptoms such as anxiety, hives, nausea, stomach pain, and cardiac collapse.

Processed Foods

Modern food processing is done to preserve food, to kill bacteria, to extend the shelf life of certain food, to make it easier and faster to cook, and to be more digestible. Methods of food processing include:

  • Cooking

  • Canning

  • Freezing

  • Milling

  • Drying

  • Enricing

Critics of food processing point to the addition of Chemicals, fat, salt, sugar, and the loss of important nutrients and fiber as problems in eating a diet of processed foods. For example, when whole grains are milled into breakfast cereal, the “bran and germ” are removed resulting in the loss of more than twenty essential vitamins and minerals. After milling, the cereal is enriched with less than five of the nutrients that were removed by the processing. Vegetables that are frozen and canned lose many of their nutrients but do retain some during the processing.

Since processing changes the whole food, the addition of excess fat, salt, and sugar to processed foods is done to improve taste and texture. For example, it is not uncommon to find from 600 to over 1000 milligrams of salt in one can of soup! And we have seen in previous pages that too much salt, sugar, and additives can lead to anxiety.

Essential

Eating processed foods sparingly or as part of a balanced diet is the key to fueling your brain so you can withstand stress and cope with anxiety. Nutritionists recommend that you eat as much fresh, whole food as possible. For example, use whole grains for some of your meals, eat fresh produce whenever possible, and choose low sodium processed foods.

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