I read this article last night on my phone while pretending to listen to some loveable relatives butcher some Christmas music, and it made me sad.
Like pretty much every other girl who was unhappy in school in the late 1990’s/early 2000’s, I used to starve myself. I mean, I ate, but if I ever get brave enough to post pictures of myself from that time period, you’ll see what I mean. It was not good.
The one thing I absolutely avoided was fat because, of course, everything around me said that it was bad. I had low-fat cheese on my sandwich (gross) at lunch. I even had fat-free, cholesterol-free salad dressing in our refrigerator at home. I had problems.
I get sad when I see people still trapped in that mindset, especially when they’re also engaging in extreme exercise. These are the people who pay more attention to their health than anyone else, but are in fact the ones doing the most damage. It’s only a matter of time before their bodies break down (I know, because mine did).
We need fat, and we need cholesterol. The article I linked to includes a quote from Ernest Arenas, a professor of stem cell neurobiology, on the role cholesterol plays in the body:
“‘We are familiar with the idea of cholesterol as a fuel for cells, and we know that it is harmful for humans to consume too much cholesterol. What we have shown now is that cholesterol has several functions, and that it is involved in extremely important decisions for neurons. Derivatives of cholesterol control the production of new neurons in the developing brain. When such a decision has been taken, cholesterol aids in the construction of these new cells, and in their survival. Thus cholesterol is extremely important for the body, and in particular for the development and function of the brain.'”
You literally need cholesterol to form new brain cells. Though we are conditioned to think of this substance as bad, it actually plays a vital role in the body.
There is also new research coming out that says there might not be as much of a risk from saturated fat consumption as previously thought. Like cholesterol, you need saturated fat to perform certain functions in your body.
While the jury is still out on this, I personally am going to stop being so strict about avoiding saturated fat. Our ancestors didn’t know anything about the different types of fat– to them, fat was fuel. The fact that fat and cholesterol play so many vital roles in the body says to me that these nutrients played a significant role in our evolutionary history, and my body is tired of missing out.
This is not to say that I’m going to drop everything and head to McDonald’s (there’s plenty of other bad stuff in fast food!). I’m not going to start eating bacon every single day. But maybe I’ll actually let myself eat it when someone else offers it to me. I think that if I can do this, it will be letting go of the last piece of me that’s still afraid of the things I eat.
I will be writing more on the saturated fat controversy. Like anything, it’s important to be well-informed and do research from a variety of reliable sources, and it’s important to me that I don’t write a health-oriented blog based on opinion. But this is how I’m feeling this morning. If you enjoyed this post, eat a big hunk of cheese for me today.