Oils, No Oils, Which Oils?

This might be a confusing topic... and for multiple reasons. Here are a few:
  1. Oils can quickly go rancid and/or be turned into hydrogenated fats (which we do not want in our diets)
  2. Oils are difficult to digest for some (I seem to fit this one often)
  3. Oils can add many calories (YIKES!)
  4. Which oils should I add to my diet?
Yes, oils can be tricky. But here is what I have learned through trial and error, just plain ol' experience and in some instances, just trusting in the research of others. 

(Mind you...these are my personal experiences. Even though some of you might be able to relate...each individual might have totally different experiences.)

1. Did you know that oils can "go bad"? Apparently there are many different types of rancidity. The one that I'm more familiar with is oxidative rancidity. Oxidative rancidity is caused by heat, light and oxygen. This is the one that concerns me the most because digesting such oils produces free radicals and free radicals cause inflammation and we know that these cause all sorts of chronic illnesses (i.e the body begins to break down in it's function if it's not able to cope with the toxins.) While we are discussing rancidity...let's talk about hydrogenated oils which have been processed chemically and at high temperatures supposedly to prevent rancidity. It's true that hydrogenation makes oils more shelf stable, but there is a cost that's passed (away from the manufacturer) and on to the consumer. While this cost is not immediately out of the consumer's pocket it can show up later at a greater cost...to the consumer's health. Hydrogenated oils promote inflammation and inflammation resistance. "Harvard School of Public Health researchers [helped] sound the alarm about trans fat in the early 1990s."

Solutions:

(1) Store oils in a dark, cool place and consume quickly once opened. I keep flax seed oil in the refrigerator.

(2) Only use for cooking once and make sure the temperature you cook at is in compliance with the maximum recommended temperature for your chosen oil. (See smoking points of oils.)  OR just don't use oil for cooking. (See ForksOverKnives.com for expert tips on cooking without oil.)

(3) Regarding the avoidance of hydrogenated oils: Avoid commercially prepared baked foods, packaged snack foods and fast foods - especially deep-fried foods. (Harvard School of Public Health )

2. For some of us, we just don't have strong digestive systems. So oils can be and even feel a bit heavy when they enter our digestive system. For me, when there is too much oil on my food I feel pressure or pain as if my food comes to a halt in my digestive system...and always in the same spot (lower left side of my stomach). Or perhaps you just feel more tired/sluggish after eating. You may be consuming too much oil in your diet.

Solutions: 

(1) I have found that when I take digestive enzymes (specifically containing lipase enzymes) with meals that contain oils...it usually lessens the bad effects. 

(2) Also when I drink fresh vegetable juice with such meals...they seem to digest better. 

(3) A third solution is to eat fermented vegetables with these meals. (Fermented foods improve intestinal tract health. They support good bacteria for better digestion. nih.gov)

3. A general rule is that each tablespoon (TBS) of oil contains 100 calories! To put that into proper perspective - it takes about one pound of broccoli to add up to 100 calories. 

Solutions:

(1) Skip adding oils to your salad dressings. Instead use some avocado or natural nuts on top of your salads which contains fiber and nutrients. Reminder: Eating large amounts of vegetables will provide more nutrition and a sense of fullness and satiation.

(2) See ForksOverKnives.com for expert tips on cooking without oil.

3. So, now you might be asking? Can oils provide the fats that our bodies need? Which oils should I consume?

Yes, our bodies do need fat. Personally, I like to follow (and recommend) the Whole Food Plant-Based model of consuming fats. Nuts, avocados, seeds(including chia seeds, flax seeds) and even many beans have concentrated amounts of natural fat.  Note: if  you are watching your fat intake, you should be careful not to over do it regarding the amounts you consume.

Solutions:

(1) As stated earlier, you can add plant-based fats to your salads in moderation.

(2) The oils I feel safest consuming in small amounts are: extra-virgin olive oil, coconut oil and flax seed oil. The only one I use to cook with is coconut oil and basically only when I'm baking vegetables in the oven - especially sweet potato bites (See how to prepare sweet potato bites in this Budha Bowl Recipe). 

A few years ago, I found this information while researching the Gerson Therapy and this is why I do consume flax seed oil on top of my pancakes. (The following is from page 181 of "Healing the Gerson Way".)
  • Flax seed oil  is high in Omega-3s which help fight inflammation and should never be heated!
  • Flax seed oil attracts oxygen at the cell membrane and transports oxygen into the cell (ah ha, so this must be how it fights free radicals and inflammation)
  • Flax seed oil is able to detoxify fat-soluble toxins and helps to dissolve and remove plague (Oh, so it works against artery clogging plague which causes heart attacks and atherosclerosis.)
  • Flax seed oil is a carrier of vitamin A - important for the immune system
  • Flax seed oils removes excess cholesterol
In the beginning I "hated" the taste of flax seed oil, now I add a bit almost daily as a mix in with unsulphured molasses and maple syrup topping for my pancakes.

Should I eat fruit with other foods?

A common food combination that might present problems for some (or many) is the combination of fruit with other foods. It's regularly suggested to eat fruit first before other foods. In about 15 minutes, the fruit will have completed most of it's digestion and on it's way out of the stomach.

It’s okay to add fruit to a smoothie especially where there are a lot of leafy greens and no type of grains. Perhaps rice protein powders or oats are not ideal for raw fruit smoothies.

And bananas combined with citrus fruits can cause some digestion problems also.

If you know that you have difficulties digesting fruits with other foods, it might be wise to switch to eating cooked (stewed or baked) fruit. For instance, one great way to do this is to cook fruit along with your hot oatmeal on the stove top.

How can I support my liver?

The liver has many functions. First and foremost, the liver is the body’s detoxifier which means it is responsible for removing toxins (anything that our body doesn’t accept as nutrients and anything that is obviously harmful to us).  The liver is highly involved in the removal of ammonia resulting from amino acid (protein) breakdown. While this process is necessary, when our goal is to support the liver, we should not eat too many “high protein” foods such as meats (red, white and even fish), eggs and may even need to limit our intake of beans (1 cup max per day), nuts and seeds (1/4 cup) to ease the load on the liver. You will receive many benefits from eating many fruits, vegetables (root vegetables and leafy greens) – preferably steamed or baked, but definitely not fried, and whole grains while avoiding wheat and gluten. FOODS TO AVOID are corn, wheat, soy and dairy (with a few exceptions of a good yogurt)  if one desires to easily detox the liver – therefore, it would be a good choice to simply avoid these foods while attempting to heal and support a healthy liver.

Special note: For the cancer patient taking traditional chemotherapy drugs, the liver has to work “overtime” to remove the toxins these drugs create. Therefore, it’s even more important to take great care of the liver.


How to fight inflammation?

One major reason for inflammation is that in most American diets the omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids are out of balance. Omega-3 fatty acids are anti-inflammatory agents while omega-6 fatty acids are pro-inflammatory.  Foods that contain high amounts of omega-6, in comparison to omega-3, are vegetable oils, processed foods and meats. Foods that contain high amounts of omega-3s, which we should increase in our diet, are ground flaxseeds, chia seeds and walnuts. Also eating a whole food plant-based diet which is rich in vegetables (especially leafy greens), fruits, nuts , seeds, legumes and (I suggest gluten-free to avoid any wheat intolerances) whole grains will help you to meet your caloric requirements and get all the essential fatty acids in the correct proportion.

Additionally, consuming antioxidant foods help fight against free radicals thus fighting inflammation. Free radicals are produced by chemical reactions and toxins which cause oxidative damage to the body’s cells. The best antioxidant foods are fruits and vegetables which contain beta-carotene (such as carrots), lycopene (such as tomatoes) and Vitamin C (citrus fruits and dark leafy greens).

Please use the Input Survey to submit your nutrition questions.

How can I help a sensitive stomach (IBS)?

There are many reasons why our stomachs become sensitive. Here are some considerations for helping with sensitivity:
  1. Remove the popular food allergens/irritants: wheat, corn, dairy and soy
  2. Ingest good bacteria (probiotics): capsule form or fermented foods
  3. Eat a real foods diet will help you to avoid other foods that might be causing issues
  4. Remove stress and anxiety. Try daily yoga breathing and stretching with the addition of positive thinking (Switch On Your Brain: The Key to Peak Happiness, Thinking, and Health), prayer and meditation.
  5. Exercise is great for the digestive system. Yoga or simple 20-minute walks are both helpful.
  6. Sometimes we can eat too many HIGH FODMAP foods which can cause bloating and stomach irritations too. 

Can I get energy from protein?

Yes you can, but it's not the body's preferred source of energy. Protein (or amino acids) make up the body's building blocks to repair cells. Actually protein has to be broken down through digestion into amino acids as a first step. The body will choose carbohydrates to turn into energy first, then fats and lastly protein. Reasons to not depend on protein for energy: (1) you should reserve your amino acids for body tissue and muscle repair (2) To use as energy the amino acids that the body created must be converted into glucose before it can be used by the body. The by-product of this conversion is ammonia which can likely cause the body to produce more acid (which is the basis of many degenerative diseases).

Do you know that all foods contain protein? So, if we supply the body with enough carbohydrates to use for fuel, then the body can use the protein of these carbohydrates to help build and repair itself. For this reason, a whole food plant-based diet is a win-win choice!


What's the body's preferred source of energy?

Glucose is the body's preferred source and it is also the main source of fuel for your brain. Therefore one reason you might have feelings of a foggy brain is when you don't have enough glucose in your blood. (Another reason could be toxins.) Glucose is readily found in carbohydrates. If you need quick energy one healthful option you can choose is fruit which is a simple carbohydrate and quickly digested. It's actually the juices of the fruit that quickly enter into your bloodstream and provide you with quick energy. (See energy drink recipes.) But choose complex carbohydrates of whole foods such as baked potatoes with skins, brown rice, quinoa and colorful vegetables for longer lasting blood sugar (glucose) levels.