Saturated fat and metabolic syndrome

According to a study by the National Marine Mammal Foundation (NMMF) looking at bottlenose dolphins, “scientists have now discovered that one particular saturated fat may actually protect against metabolic syndrome”, which can lead to diabetes.

To state the obvious, we are not dolphins, but these mammals can also develop metabolic syndrome, so it made sense to study their high fat diet to see what we could learn.

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What scientists did learn was that out of all the fatty acids investigated (as different species of fish have different levels of various fatty acids), one in particular – heptadecanoic acid – seemed to be associated with beneficial effects on their metabolism.

“To relate this to humans, the researchers examined various food products for heptadecanoic acid levels, which is known to be present in things like dairy fat, rye and certain fish. They found that butter, whole milk and yoghurt contained the highest amounts, whereas it was undetectable in non-fat dairy products”.

We’re all well aware of the huge movement towards “non-fat” and “low fat” in the past 40 years. Venn-Watson hypothesizes that this dietary deficiency of whole fat dairy products “may have created unanticipated heptadecanoic acid deficiencies”.

There is a plan to replicate the study on humans to determine optimal levels of heptadecanoic acid, but there is already some supportive evidence from large scale studies in Japan and Europe.

high fat dolphinsSo could high fat diets be the answer to diabetes prevention? Well, it could certainly be a major factor in the development of the disease.

There is never just “one thing” that will prevent, reverse or cause any disease

Good health has a foundation in many areas and we need a myriad of components to ensure optimal nutrition. Making sure we eat the right fats in the right amounts is definitely a key factor that can create big results.

What we need to take away from this and really think about is the form of the food we’re eating. Unprocessed food will always win over processed.

It blows my mind that people can still think that margarine can possibly be better than butter for you. Margarine is highly processed; our bodies are not designed to use foreign compounds as nutrients.

You shouldn’t be eating a lot of butter to begin with: if you slather it over everything, every day, then we need to talk!

And have you tried a nice fuller fat yogurt lately, at least 2% or more? It’s delicious – thick and creamy, not runny or full of artificial flavours (read the ingredients!).

We also don’t eat enough fish, for various reasons. A top quality Omega3 supplement like BiOmega from USANA can help us achieve optimal daily requirements. Many of us also eat too much red meat (fast food lovers I’m talking to you!), which has a high iron content.

High ferritin (a protein that stores iron) “is thought to be a possible underlying cause of metabolic syndrome because of the damage ferritin can cause to cells and tissues”. Ensuring you’re getting your antioxidants (fruits and veggies!) can help combat this, but reducing your red meat intake to once or twice a week will also have a significant impact.

By creating a meal plan that includes lots of whole foods, good quality fats and supplementing where you need to, you give yourself the best chance of reducing your risk of diabetes, but also many other diseases.

Taking care of your body is one of the most rewarding adventures you can embark on: you’ll have more time to enjoy the ride.

References:

Dolphin Study Suggests Saturated Fat Could Help Prevent Diabetes

Why We got Fatter during the Fat Free Food Boom

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