My last post mentioned a revelation I had about my diet and how maybe I was getting too much protein and not enough fat….
I’ve been looking into this and the realizations have been profound.
First, I was in my 20’s during the apex of the “low-fat” craze. The “lower-fat is always better” mentality got ingrained, even after I learned that fat isn’t bad and that most of the reasoning behind the low-fat mentality has been disproved and debunked.
Still, many health websites and recommendations mention limiting fat intake for a healthy diet. The one big exception is the Keto folks.
Anyway, in my quest to limit calories and up my protein intake, I cut fat even further down….way down….too far down. I got less than 20g of fat most days since January and probably still less than 40g of fat before then for a long time. So that you know, a “low-fat” diet is considered limiting fat to 50g per day.
It turns out, eating that little fat is bad. There is actually a REAL problem with not eating enough fat, lots of problems actually. There’s even something called “Essential Fatty Acid Deficiency” where you don’t eat enough of the “essential fats”. Those would be the Omega 3’s and 6’s. They are essential because our bodies can not make them and we do need them to function. (Just like the essential amino acids that most of you know all about).
It turns out, my list of developing health concerns and odd observations of my body and mind….line up with every single symptom I found on the effects of not eating enough fat.
*unrelenting hunger/craving even when “full”
*extremely dry skin, eyes, and other mucous membranes
*poor temperature regulation/always cold
*Specifically: dry cracking skin on lower extremities
*Hormone disruption and irregularity
*extreme mental fatigue, difficulty concentrating, memory problems
*sore joints and muscles
Some personal notes:
Dry skin: About a year ago (maybe more), I started noticing an odd crackling pattern in my skin on both of my shins. It looked like the dry cracked earth in the bottom of a dry creek bed. It wouldn’t go away no matter how much coconut oil and other lotions I rubbed in. I never suspected it was diet related…I saw “clinical fat deficiency” pictures of “lower extremity dryness”…it looked like someone snuck in and took pictures of my legs. So THAT’s what that WAS?! Since increasing my fat intake -it improved immediately and it is still present but is almost gone.
When I starting adding fat…in the shower one day I suddenly exclaimed, “oh, my GOD my skin is SO SOFT!” I was so shocked that I called my husband in and said, “feel my skin!” He said, “damn, your skin hasn’t been that soft in a long time”.
Hormone disruption: lately my cycles have me telling friends “I feel like a cat being swung around by it’s tail!” and have also described my cycle as “Mr. Toad’s wild ride” Since I’m 46, I thought…here it comes…the dreaded change. It is too early to tell, but could some of that be hormone disruption I was experiencing from fat deficiency? (I HOPE so, since eating more fat will help make it better if that is the cause. If not, then I guess I have to “batten down the hatches!” cause that storm’s a-coming.)
Poor temperature regulation: Up until recently, I was a “warm” person. You know, there’s those people who are always cold/never warm, then there’s people who are always warm/never cold. I was the always warm and never cold type. I wore shorts in the winter, overheat easily in summer, positively WILT if it is over 95 degrees outside. Except, this winter I could not get warm. I was cold, even in a hot bath…cold from the inside-out. I couldn’t seem to get warm. Now I know why.
Mental fatigue/memory/concentration: I’m generally pretty sharp, focused, and quick-witted. I considered my mind one of my greatest assets. But lately? Issues there across the board. Trouble concentrating, “can’t think” , making odd distracted math errors, stumbling on my words, blanking out…I was really worrying and wondering what the hell was wrong with me. I had scary fears that I would maybe develop dementia like my mom, when did her’s start?, etc…
Since eating more fat…it’s like a thick brain fog is clearing. My mental clarity, sharpness, and concentration is coming back, I feel like I’m firing on all cylinders again.
Fatigue: I felt like I had the flu, bone-deep tired. I would get tired more easily than normal and need to rest more often. I thought, “is this me getting old?”
Since more fat…more energy, more “get-up-and-go”, more “motivated”, less tired.
Sore joints and muscles: I’ve been more sore lately (often for no good reason) and developing some joint pains. Not sure if upping my fat intake will help, this one is on “see what happens” status.
Depression: you may have read about my recent struggles in previous blog posts. I have had more difficulty with depression in the past 5 years in general, but the worst bout of it was recently, not long after this new “diet” started. Again, I’ll have to see what happens, but I can say I feel more like my normal self since I increased my fat intake. I simply feel better. Will it last? Hard to say, but I guess it is another “see what happens” moment.
So, we will see what happens, but I can see and feel the difference since I stated eating more fat and the improvements have been dramatic. So, for me the conclusion is that I was definitely not eating enough fat and many of my health issues were or likely were caused by not getting enough fat.
Oh, and I read many articles and websites the course of my personal research. This one is a must-read for everyone!