Contrary to popular belief and fake news, there are many dangers of a high-fat diet, which I have outlined below.
For background info, I think it’s important to understand that our bodies run on GLUCOSE (aka carbohydrate or aka sugar) not fat.
The terms “sugar” and “carbs” have gotten a bad rap, but unjustly so. Our brains, nervous system, organs, muscles and all tissues NEED glucose (aka sugar) to stay alive and thrive.
It’s true that chocolate cake and raw honey both contain carbohydrates (aka sugar). To be clear, I am only talking about REAL foods…like honey, maple syrup, fresh fruit, dried fruit without any additives, frozen fruit without any additives, potatoes, sweet potatoes, winter squash, carrots, beets, and coconut water.
I think we can all agree that processed foods and drinks are not health or longevity foods.
Other background information before we dive into the dangers of a high-fat diet includes the digestive process. Our stomach glands produce a hydrochloric acid blend. And our liver produces bile which is like soap and it breaks down the fat we eat.
Digestion starts in the mouth with salivary enzymes that start breaking down food. Digestion continues in the stomach with blends of hydrochloric acid. And then digestion of fat begins in the small intestine with bile and enzymes produced by the pancreas. At the end of the small intestine, the food we’ve eaten and we’ve now broken down, is shuttled to the liver via the portal vein. If you ate chips, those particles are sent to the liver for distribution. If you drank a wild blueberry smoothie, those nutrients are sent to the liver for distribution.
If there is more fat to digest/break down than bile and enzyme stores, fat starts to accumulate. At first, the liver can contain it all. But when the liver gets “full”, or if it comes in too fast, there will also be fat particles roaming around in the bloodstream.
After 20 years of studying health, and nutrition, I’ve come to believe that eating too much fat shortens our lifespan and has significant health risks. If you are tracking your intake with a free program like www.cronometer.com , too much fat would be defined as more than 10% fat. If you were to track your fat, you would quickly see that 10% fat isn’t much! It’s easy to eat too much, but it comes with side effects long-term.
The dangers of a high fat diet:
- Thick blood. Imagine cooking a roast or chicken. Pour off the juices and refrigerate them. The fat rises to the top right? That same fat hidden inside of the roast and chicken you ate can course through YOUR blood stream until it is broken down (emulsified with bile and enzymes) and eliminated from the body (which takes time). If you are eating more fat than can be processed, it starts to accumulate throughout the body in various ways, so keep reading.
- Lipotoxicity, which is when fat accumulates in NON FAT tissue, such as kidneys, liver, muscle cells, and heart. 25% of our population is said to be affected by this (because we eat too much fat!).
- Fatty Liver. As that fat accumulates in the liver, it can progress to a diagnose-able condition called “fatty liver”. Our livers have 2000 + functions, so a fatty liver in-and-of itself has health consequences. I did an entire training on Liver Health, teaching you how to naturally improve liver function (even if labs are still normal). If you want to improve your health in any way, you NEED to have a healthy liver as a foundation, because of its 2000 jobs!
- Reduced oxygen to tissues. Excess fat in the blood reduces the amount of oxygen in the blood supply – which reduces oxygen to all of your tissue – including your brain. Think of it like a hallway and instead of being open for travel, it is full of boxes and you have to navigate your way through the passage. Oxygen-rich blood is critical to stop cancer, fight Epstein Barr Virus, and keep tissues alive.
- Oxidation of toxins. Fat also causes any heavy metals we’ve acquired (and we all have!) to oxidize more quickly, and the result is that our nervous system can be damaged. I mean your brain cells can be damaged as the heavy metals oxidize. This can result in a neurological diagnosis like multiple sclerosis, parkinsons disease, ALS…and can also include conditions like tics, tremors, gastroparesis (slow motility from damaged nerves), difficulty swallowing pills due to damaged nerves, plantar fascitis, and so many other neurological-based conditions.
- Reduced detoxification. A liver burdened by the demands of trying to process an excess amount of fat takes away capacity of the liver to do a very important job: detoxification. When this happens, EVEN MORE heavy metals, toxins, and viral debris are accumulating AND they are oxidizing at a faster rate. It’s now a snowball rolling down hill, gaining speed as it goes.
- Pathogen protection. Fat globules in the blood also shield any viruses on board. Think of it like giving the pathogens a place to hide!
- Inhibits white blood cells ability to do their job. Slightly different than that, is that our white blood cells have to navigate this thick blood with fat globule obstacles in it. Fatty thick blood makes it harder for our white blood cells to do their job!
- Reduced function of the livers immune cells. Some animal fats are worse than others due to a denser viscosity to them – and the liver has to work EVEN harder than it does with other fats to make enough good-quality bile to break down the fat. For example, lamb and pork have heavy dense fats and they are an even bigger burden to the body than salmon for example. If you are eating pork or lamb (or fried foods) please know that your immune system within the liver drops (from the overwhelm) and so you are more vulnerable to pathogen attacks from bacteria and viruses. Again, a bit of a snowball situation where the side effects of a high-fat diet start compounding and stacking on themselves.
- Reduced quality and quantity of bile. Another danger of a high-fat diet, and these especially dense fats like pork and lamb, is that the liver can’t produce enough high-quality bile fast enough to do the job. It’s like trying to wash a pan you cooked bacon in with only 1 or 2 drops of soap. When the liver can’t keep up, bile can either become thin in nature (like watered down soap), or the amount of bile produced can be depressed. or both.
- Pancreatitis. #10 above can lead to a downstream affect in which the pancreas, which plays a minor role in fat digestion, gets overworked, and this can result in a pancreatitis diagnosis. The liver is exhausted and can’t keep up with bile production, the pancreas tries to help, but if excess fat consumption continues, both organs become compromised.
- Hypertension. Your heart draws blood from the liver. This blood *should* be full of nutrients so that the heart can pump this nutrient-rich blood out to the body and brain, and nourish our cells. But if the liver is congested, and full of excess fat, your heart has to work harder to draw the thick blood up out of the liver. It’s like sucking a milkshake through a straw. Hypertension is the result of the heart having to work harder and harder to draw blood up from a congested, fatty, liver full of fat and other accumulated debris.
- Pathogen overgrowth in the GI track / Dysbiosis. Hydrochloric acid (Hcl) and bile are anti-microbial, meaning they kill pathogens. This is what allows us to eat a moldy strawberry, or food that has fallen on the floor. But when a high fat diet is chronic, and bile and HCl are diminished, pathogens like streptococcus and E coli can overgrow in the GI tract, resulting in Small Intestine Bacterial Overgrowth (SIBO), IBS, Crohns Disease, or Colitis. This might also be labeled Dysbiosis (dysfunction related to microbiome).
- Food sensitivities. Low stomach acid and inability to break down foods also has an effect on the development of food sensitivities. I have found that by healing the liver, which includes lowering fat among other things, people’s food sensitivities are also healed. Again, a great place to start healing ANY condition is to heal the liver because of how important liver health is in overall health. Get starting healing your liver today.
- Bad breath, rotting teeth, receding gums, smelly stools, gas….If this list isn’t bad enough, there’s another danger of a high-fat diet and that is that food putrefies and rots inside the GI tract when it isn’t properly broken down. You might notice halitosis (bad breath), dental problems, smelly stools or gas, heart burn, and bloating.
- Cholestasis / gallstones are another risk of eating a high-fat diet long term. The liver produces the bile, and it is stored in the gallbladder until needed. A chronic high-fat diet places puts pressure on our gallbladder too.
- Insulin resistance, pre-diabetes, or type 2 diabetes. Fat in our bloodstream blocks the absorption of carbohydrates into the cells where it is needed as fuel. Our cells have “doors” and glucose can enter freely when the door opens. But if the doorknob is coated in fat, it makes it hard to turn the knob. THIS is why glucose builds up in and people are told they have high blood sugar. The culprit is NOT the glucose. The culprit is the fat that coats the doorknob, the door doesn’t open, and glucose builds up in the bloodstream. I promise that lowering the fat to 10% (or even fat free for a pre-determined time), will allow the door to open, carbohydrates/sugar/glucose to enter the cell as designed, and blood sugar to normalize. This is all from research in the past 17 years or so and medical textbooks are changing, and the information is making its way mainstream but it takes time. You can be ahead of the curve now.
- Varicose veins develop, as thick heavy blood is unable to return from extremities, to the heart.
- Gout is another side effect and here’s how: Fat and protein are almost always found together in foods. There are VERY FEW lean animal foods. 10% fat burger is 50% fat in calories. The 10% is a trick by food producers. Wild caught salmon is 30-35% fat. The only lean animal food is white fish and of course you’d need to bake it with lemon juice, not oil for it to remain lean. If you don’t believe me, start inputting your food in www.cronometer.com and you’ll see where your calories come from.
- Last but not least – you probably know that eating a high fat diet raises the risk of heart disease, strokes, and blood clots.
Are plant fats safer for me than animal fats?
Overall, the answer is NO. Fat is fat and too much is still too much. You can be on a vegan diet, but eating too many cashews, or too much nut butter and eventually suffer from the same conditions listed above.
There ARE some fats that are easier to digest. For example, avocado is a fruit fat, and it is easier to break down than animal fats. But, you could still eat too much avocado.
What is the optimal diet for optimal health?
80% whole food – quality – carbohydrates. It’s time that we differentiate donuts from wild blueberries. The carbohydrates – or sugars – aren’t comparable. Donuts are not a whole food, nor are they a quality food. Fruit contains the most anti-oxidants of any food group bar none. And starchy vegetables like potatoes, sweet potatoes, and squash are not the bad guy…but what we put on them feeds the chronic disease process.
10% quality fats. Again, there is a vast difference between fried foods and partially hydrogenated oils, and avocado on a salad. But it’s all too easy to eat too much fat so I highly recommend you track your intake for awhile, until you see what is working, and what you need to change.
10% quality protein. What you may not realize is that EVERY plant food God made has protein in it. My morning smoothie with wild blueberries, banana’s, and cherries is 17% protein. An afternoon salad with peas, tomatoes, cucumbers, and celery gives me more protein, believe it or not. As long as you eat enough calories per day, you WILL get enough protein!
Eating too much protein in another topic, but in short, excess protein will contribute to gallstones, kidney stones, gout, and osteoporosis to name just a few major conditions.
You might also enjoy this post: What is the Healthiest Diet
I hope you benefited from this post, and that you will share it with your loved ones so you can enjoy each other through the aging process.