A dramatic title, and the words of Dr Catherine Shanahan author of ‘Deep Nutrition.’
We are what we eat. The food we eat is not only information for our body, but also provides the basic building blocks we need to build human tissue. Unlike alcohol or smoking, toxic ‘food’ that we might choose to eat, is inflammatory as we eat it, and it then becomes us, creating an additional chain reaction of inflammation.
One of the most important building materials our bodies require, is healthy fats. Fats are found in the myelin sheath around nerves, in every single cell membrane, and our brain is 50% fat by dry weight. Fat is a natural part of our body, and if we are eating damaged fats from vegetable oils, then we might be building a cheap, nasty, and unhealthy, body.
What Are Vegetable Oils?
Vegetable oils are oils derived from corn, cottonseed, sunflower, safflower, canola, rice bran, soy, grapeseed, or any oil that has been industrially processed. This does not include Olive oil, although an important caveat is that many olive oils are blended with cheap canola oil to cut prices!
It’s the processing steps that damage these oils, rendering them chemically unstable and prone to oxidisation and decay. The danger of eating something that is prone to oxidation, is that it then compromises our bodies own fatty acids, gobbles up anti-oxidants, and create a cascade of free radical damage and metabolic chaos.
It’s estimated that we are consuming 1,000 times more soy oil (a known neurotoxin and hormone disrupter) than we were in the 1900s. It’s also been speculated that the average diet of an American consists of a whopping 50-60% of vegetables oils. How is this possible? Well if you are eating a highly processed diet, or eating out at restaurants (who often use cheap oils to reduce costs) then it’s not just possible, it’s probable! The ramifications of this are that the average human eating a Standard American Diet (SAD) is now composed of more inflammatory polyunsaturated fat than ever before in history.
When you eat toxic vegetable oil, it becomes you meaning every tissue in your body is exposed to accelerated oxidation and aging. Your health issues or weight gain won’t disappear while you are eating vegetable oils.
Eating unnatural and damaged fats like vegetable oils is hazardous to our health. Given the brain is constructed of a large amount of polyunsaturated fats (think omega 3’s and 6’s) we need to ensure we are actively eating and replenishing these fats from quality sources. But if we are not eating the right fats, then our body must do its very best to build our brain.
‘It's like you are at a construction site with your contractor, and the contractor's like, "Well, I know you wanted your house made out of bricks, but those never showed up. We did get these styrofoam balls. We've got to get this show on the road here, so let's just go for it, see what happens." The body does its very best with the equipment that it has on hand, but it's not going to perform at its very best.’
Dr Cate Shanahan
Fried Foods is Worse Than Smoking
Fried vegetable oils are a whole new level of damage, and researches have shown that eating a serving of french fries is in fact worse for the body than smoking in regards to endothelial function (think how well the lining of your blood vessels operates.) A cigarette impairs endothelial function for up to four hours, but a pack of french fries is much worse, and lasts up to 24 hours. This means that if you are exercising and eating fried foods it’s worse than exercising and smoking – you simply will not be able to improve your health and fitness.
‘The french fries, one serving, reduced their endothelial function for up to 24 hours. How much did it reduce it? It obliterated it. There was no endothelial function anymore. Effectively, what this shows is that this one serving of fries ages your arteries to the point where you're an unhealthy 80-year-old for up to 24 hours. You do that day after day, and you're walking around with the arteries of an 80-year-old.’ Dr Cate Shanahan
To make matters even worse, vegetable oils create metabolic by-products which are genotoxins, meaning they mutate your genes and interfere with replication of your DNA. So, eating these vegetable oils will alter your genes, an especially important point to take note of if you are sick or considering making a healthy baby!
Brain Health and Executive Function
Our brains have a process called executive function that deals with planning, will power, abstract thinking, information manipulation, attention shifting, social functioning and modulating emotions. All of these are important for day to day function, but especially so when it comes to creating a more healthy habit like starting an exercise or healthy eating program. When a diet consists of vegetable oils that have made their way into the cells of the body and especially the brain, we can experience compromised executive function.
'Getting these vegetable oils out of your diet and out of your brain, for me, it is the single most important thing that anyone can do to improve their health, because if your brain isn't working right, it's going to be that much harder to tackle new habits and a new diet.'- Dr Cate Shanahan
Weight gain and cellulite
The 1980’s dietary recommendations to reduce saturated fat have led to 30 years of eating more of these more liquid, unstable vegetable oils. Vegetable oils degrade the cells and surrounding body tissue to promote inflammation and oxidation, both of which will increase weight gain and make it hard to sustain health function. A sure fine way to rapidly reduce weight gain is to eat more healthful fats to help manage blood sugar and healing, and reduce the fats that break you down.
When we ingest more inflammatory vegetable oils, and not enough good quality fats, our body fat is more liquid and inflammatory, which breaks down the supporting collagen structure. Cellulite is a consequence of unhealthy collagen in the fascial tissue, and more liquid, flimsy body fat. We build healthy collagen by eating collagen and nourishing real food, hydrating fascia with movement, and moving in a constantly variable way to build and fortify the fascial fabric of our body, which is largely made from collagen. When the support structure of collagen is eroded by inflammation, the fat can push through creating dimples on the skin.
Selling cheap food is a lucrative business both for those who make the food, and those who treat the general lack of well being and illnesses they cause. Vegetable oils are relatively new in the food chain and are not healthy, or natural. You can make powerful gains in your health by reducing your exposure to these substances, and opting for a more simple, staple diet of real food. Although you may not feel acutely ill after eating vegetable oils, remember that their effects are corrosive and sinister, and over time they will negatively impact on your health.