Disclaimer: The information presented in this blog post is intended for educational purposes only, and it hasn’t been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. This information isn’t intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any condition or disease, nor is it medical advice. One should always consult a qualified medical professional before engaging in any dietary and/or lifestyle change.
Have you ever been told that you should only eat “good” fats like fatty fish, olive oil, avocados and nuts, but don’t eat too much of those or you might go over your fat limit for the day? Have you ever heard that butter and animal fats should be limited in your diet as they can cause heart disease? Have you ever felt anxiety about eating bacon or steak because you’ve heard these are terrible for health due to the saturated fat? Have you ever been on a low-fat diet because you thought it would be the healthiest thing for you and maybe even help you lose weight?
👋 Hi. Hello. Me. My name is Corie and I’m an ex low-fat dieter.
Ugh. I cringe to write this, but it’s true. I used to eat a low-fat, plant based diet several years ago. It went on for about three years and let me tell you- my health had never declined so fast. My teeth, skin, mood and periods all got weird and bad. Thankfully, I’ve now recovered since I’ve been eating a more balanced diet for the past four or five years. Since then, I have been LOVING enjoying delicious fats guilt-free. I no longer have anxiety about eating fats and my health has improved by 1000%.
If you’re a person struggling with hormonal symptoms such as acne, irregular/painful periods, mood changes, difficulty conceiving, weight gain, blood sugar regulation issues or unwanted facial hair (among many others), then it’s worth looking into the fats you’re eating. This is because fats play a huge role in your body’s ability to make and regulate hormones.
As you may have read in my blog post 8 Oils to Love and 8 Oils to Stay Far Away From, there absolutely are fats and oils that are beneficial to our health (I would even say critical) and there are many out there that should be limited. Head over to that post to learn more, but I will summarize below.
Good Fats + Why They’re Good
Here are some excellent fats to incorporate into your diet:
~Saturated fats such as lard, grass-fed butter, beef tallow, ghee and coconut oil.
“WHAT? Saturated fat is BAD with a capital B. Don’t you know it causes heart disease and plaque buildup and a bunch of health problems?!”
This is what I imagine you’re thinking as you read this!
Unfortunately, we have been misled in recent years about saturated fats. Per Dr. Stephen Hussey, conventional medicine continues to base its understanding regarding the relationship between saturated fat, cholesterol and heart disease on a poorly designed study from the 1950’s that has since been invalidated. Nutrition experts are now starting to see and understand that saturated fats are protective of the heart, immune system, skin, bone health, mental health and reduces inflammation systemically. Trans fats (those found in partially-hydrogenated oils) and chronic inflammation have been more recently correlated with heart disease, per Dr Natasha Campbell-McBride. Not everyone has caught up, however, and some professionals continue to suggest that people limit beneficial saturated fats.
Full of omega-9 fatty acids, specifically oleic acid, which is protective of the brain.
~Nuts + seeds (almonds, cashews, sunflower seeds, walnuts)
Nuts and seeds contain omega-6 fatty acids, an essential fatty acid (meaning we need them to function, our body can’t make it and we must eat them). Most people get plenty of omega-6 fatty acids in their diet because most people are eating seed oils as found in processed foods or restaurants. These oils (such as canola, vegetable, safflower, sunflower, soybean and partially-hydrogenated oils) are far from healthy, but they do contain omega-6 fatty acids. Animal products also contain omega-6 fatty acids.
If you’re not eating much of these seed oils (and I hope you aren’t), incorporating some nuts and seeds can be okay, but I always recommend focusing more on the omega-3 rich foods rather than omega-6 rich foods. The reason is because if our diet is comprised of mostly omega-6 fatty acids with very little intake of omega-3’s, that can cause inflammation and negatively impact our hormone health. The ideal ratio for amounts of omega-6’s to omega-3’s to consume is 2:1.
~Fatty fish like salmon, sardines, trout and mackerel
Omega-3’s baby! Another essential fatty acid. They are bountifully found in fatty fish. If you aren’t eating fatty fish a few times a week, you may consider a supplement of good quality fermented cod liver oil. Chia and flax seeds do contain omega-3’s as well, but the omega-3’s found in animal sources are more readily available for the body to use.
So, why eat these fats for hormone health?
- Your body can’t make steroid hormones without fats and cholesterol. Cholesterol is only found in animal products. Therefore, when we eat animal proteins and fats, we are supporting our body’s hormone health.
- As you may know, we utilize vitamins A, D, E and K for basic functioning of our skin, heart, brain and yes, our hormone health! These are all fat-soluble vitamins. They can’t be absorbed in our bodies without the assistance of fat. So make sure to eat your vegetables with a good fat so that you can ensure you’re absorbing those beneficial vitamins!
- Any attempt to boost hormone health is futile without first focusing on regulating your blood sugar. Eating fat in each meal helps the energy you gain from your food to last longer, preventing rapid rising and falling of your blood sugar throughout the day.
How do these fats help with fertility?
- Consuming fatty acids in preparation for pregnancy has been shown to play a supportive role in sperm implantation into the egg as well as pregnancy maintenance.
- Trans fatty acids (partially-hydrogenated oils such as margarine and those found in processed foods) have been shown to negatively impact the ovulation process.
- Not eating enough essential fatty acids can negatively impact hormones and imbalanced hormone health can have a negative effect on fertility.
So, there you have it!
- Make sure you’re eating a beneficial fat with each meal.
- Try incorporating more sources of omega-3 fatty acids (such as wild-caught salmon, mackerel, sardines, trout, etc) into your diet. If possible, try eating at least 3 sources a week. If you’re unable to eat that much omega-3 rich food, you may want to look into the benefits of fermented cod liver oil to supplement.
- Fatty acids can affect hormone health and fertility health, so make sure you’re eating the good kinds and limiting the bad kinds.
If you need any help further understanding how hormones and fertility are impacted by our fat intake, contact me here and let me know.
Take good care, y’all!
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