The Truth Behind Saturated Fats

New evidence suggests saturated fats aren’t as harmful as was first thought, and are in fact very important to our everyday health.

At their very core, medicine and healthcare are a science, and the beauty of science is that new findings and discoveries can completely change the way we think about the world around us.

fork-207410_640For example, cigarettes were once considered a healthy dietary supplement, but of course we now know better.

In a similar fashion, the latest findings have identified that, contrary to what was believed for almost 60 years, saturated fats do not promote heart disease.

Recent studies have actually exonerated saturated fats from having a role in many different illnesses, including the creation of atherosclerosis (hardening of the arteries).

The entire way we think about fats is changing, so let’s take a look back at why they were stigmatized in the first place and clear up any confusion on the matter.

Weird Science

The campaigns against saturated fat actually began way back in 1953, when Dr Ancel Keys published a paper comparing fat intake and cholesterol levels to heart disease mortality.

It has since come to light that Dr Keys actually hand-picked the evidence to support his claims, and despite studying over 22 countries, he focussed solely on the six that actually corroborated his ideas.

It has even been suggested that Keys was in fact being paid by companies in the sugar industry, as these corporations benefit from fats being removed from food and replaced with sugar to maintain taste.

These flawed findings have led to decades of misinformation, and the increase in the sugar content of food produce has undoubtedly been a major factor in the spread of depression, diabetes and obesity.

New Evidence

So what’s changed now?

Since 2010, evaluations of multiple studies involving over 350,000 participants have found that saturated fat is not, in fact, associated with heart disease.

Rather, saturated fat has been shown to have positive effects on the body, such as:Appetizers

  • Boosting your immune system: Saturated fatty acids, like those found in butter, give white blood cells the boost they need to identify and destroy invading viruses.Increasing
  • Increasing testosterone: Eating saturated fat has been shown to increase free testosterone levels, helping repair tissue and preserve muscle.Improving liver health: Saturated fat helps the liver to function more effectively.
  • Improving liver health: Saturated fat helps the liver to function more effectively.

Problems such as heart disease and obesity are actually caused by numerous factors, including inactivity, oxidized fats (or trans fats) and overeating.

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Why You Should Still Be Exercising

Think you are “too old” to bother with sport or fitness? Think again!

Doing regular exercise in and past middle age has lots of amazing benefits. Many of the reasons are the same as those that apply to younger people. Exercise gives us energy, helps us to make new friends (for example at the gym or as part of a sports team), enables us to de-stress and makes us feel better about our bodies.

The Many Benefits

These plusses should not be any less appealing for people in their 40s, 50s and beyond. In some ways it is arguable that they can be even more important. For example, many people find that they put on weight more easily once they reach middle age. Exercise can help keep you trim. Women going through the menopause can also find that hormone swings affect their mood, and exercise can release endorphins to combat this.

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According to some research, more exercise during middle age can help fend off chronic illness later in life too. A recent study published in the Archives of International Medicine found that regular exercise in your middle age can help reduce the risk of you suffering from chronic illness, even if you didn’t bother to exercise when you were younger. The research looked at the medical records of almost 19,000 people who had visited the Cooper Clinic in Dallas, Texas for a check-up in 1970 as middle aged individuals. Their check-ups had all included fitness tests.

The researchers then checked the individuals against Medicare claim records between 1999 and 2009 when most participants had at least reached their 70s. They discovered that those who had been least fit during their check-up in 1970 were more likely to have claimed for a chronic illness during the early stages of old age. Such chronic illnesses included diabetes, Alzheimer’s, heart disease and lung cancer. Although very fit participants had also developed such chronic diseases, in many cases this came much later on in their ageing period.

Maintain Mental Health

Another study carried out by the Montreal Heart Institute found that older people that engage in exercise can enjoy mental benefits as well. According to the investigation, six middle aged people who had disproportionate cardiovascular risk experienced an improvement in their cognitive ability when following a four-month program that combined high-intensity interval training and resistance training.

Whether you pursue high-intensity interval training, join a soccer team, take up martial arts or simply resolve to go jogging more often, it is important to try and build an exercise regime that suits you.

Live A Healthy Lifestyle

Healthy living does not just stop at exercise of course. Watching what you eat is important as you approach retirement age too.
Salt is a big one to watch out for, because as we get older we can become more sensitive to it. Salt can make us retain water, which in turn can contribute to high blood pressure. Therefore, it is important to watch your daily salt intake.

Hopefully these tips will help encourage you to keep exercising and live a healthy lifestyle well into old age. Let us know how you maintain good health in the comments below.