We have, in recent decades, been told to stay away from fats because they “make us fat”. Fat has been the scapegoat for just about every disease which has been the result of industrialization, from cancer to heart attacks. Well, let me start by telling you that this could not be further from the truth. Fat is absolutely vital and fundamental to every aspect of our health as humans. This is what our brains are made of for goodness sake! And as far as sources go, I’m not just talking about avocados and peanuts here. Before we get into the best ways to fulfill your body’s needs for fat, though, we must first achieve an understanding of how we digest those fats. This is because, think about it, what would be the point of putting premium gas in a broken down car? It’s the same premise with your body. Digestion is fundamental for optimal nutrition; but today we will focus on how this relates to fats specifically.
Digestion can be considered a process that is North to South. It all begins in the brain, when you think about the food that you are about to eat. This then tells your innately wise body to salivate. This is why it is so important to eat mindfully, priming the mouth for the first and a very important step of mechanical digestion. Furthermore, if you don’t chew your food properly, you are in a way wasting the money you spent on the food because you won’t be assimilating your nutrients from it anyway.
Meanwhile, gastric juices such as hydrochloric acid (HCL) will begin flowing out of the parietal cells of the stomach. This is very important because HCL is what allows us to absorb all of the nutrients we take in by creating a very acidic pH in the stomach. This, combined with the presence of sufficient amounts of fat in the gastrointestinal tract, signals your ever important gall bladder to contract and secrete bile. Bile breaks down fat, making it water soluble like dish soap to a greasy dish. This way it can be broken down and either eliminated or used in the body, as anti-inflammatory prostaglandins for example, or as a hormone such as a steroid or a thyroid hormone.
Interestingly, this bile substance, which breaks down fat, is actually made out of cholesterol! So basically, we need good fats in order to break down and get rid of fat. Bile is also a main way That our bodies are able to get rid of toxins and pathogens. The only way these pathogens are released, via this bile substance, is if there are enough fats in the Small Intestine to release hormone cholecystokinin (CCK).
Absence or insufficiency of fat for any prolonged period leads to stagnation the bile becomes thick and viscous. After prolonged stagnation, this bile will crystallize, leading to gall stones. If left this way, the lack of contraction and stagnation will lead to the bile becoming solid. The sufferer might experience gall bladder attacks, which can include but are not limited to: pain under your right rib cage, under your right shoulder blade or in between the shoulders. This is because the same nerve that innervates these areas in your back also goes to your gall bladder.
This inflammation in the gall bladder also caused problems for the liver which stores and creates all of the bile. If the bile isn’t released though, the bile will back up into the liver and cause fatty liver. Being that the liver is your second largest organ, it takes up a lot of space and when is inflames it can press against other organs such as the diaphragm and heart. Liver inflammation leads to a host of other problems.
At this point of severe pain and inflammation due to poor gall bladder health, many people look into or talked into getting their gall bladder removed. As I have stated before, for every health problem, I find that nature provides us with natural solutions. In the case of a sick gall bladder, beets are a total blessing. Beets contain a potent compound known as Betaine. Betaine has the ability to thin this viscous bile and, when combined with incorporating fat back into the diet, can nurse the gall bladder back to health.
I think it to be very important to have a doctor or practitioner who has a holistic mindset when discussing something as important functionally as a digestive organ. It would be a real shame for hundreds of thousands of people to get a vital organ removed because they were told they “didn’t need them”. I have heard plenty of recovery stories regarding gall bladder health that are nothing short of miraculous in my health journey. If you did get your gall bladder taken out though, it might be in your interest to inquire about bile salts. Apples and raw, organic apple cider vinegar* are very helpful for those with gall stones. The malic acid in them softens the stones. Adding 1-2 teaspoons to 8 ounces of water or fresh pressed apple juice can work wonders for digestion, energy levels and overall vibrance. You may also add cinnamon and raw local honey to make it more palatable and soothing.
Ginger is also very helpful for digestion. It is wonderful drink it every morning to get your digestive and energetic “fire” going. Ginger tea can also be very helpful drank with your meals to end each digestion, stimulating hydrochloric acid and bile flow . To make it fresh, boil 1-2 inches for 20 minutes or until the water reduces to half. Its very warming and helps fuel our digestive fire which is damped by cold food and drinks, especially in the cold months. This “fire” is vital to get the entire digestive system working properly. You can also take ginger in powder form. Here is a great brand you can get online that is a great deal, especially for those hypersensitive to gluten as it is always batch tested for even trace amounts of gluten. Another supplement that some may need for extra digestive support in the gall bladder arena is taurine, an amino acid that will help your body to thin the bile, so you can then properly emulsify and use these fats. You can also find this amino acid in fat- digesting superfood beets. If you don’t like beets or lead a busy lifestyle, you can purchase them in supplement form here. Also worth noting for proper fat digestion are fenugreek* and artichoke, which help open up the biliary and pancreatic duct which can help immensely with fat digestion. Cardamom, clove and cumin as well as coriander and fennel seeds can all be extremely helpful for supporting digestion overall including that of fats. It is highly advised that you use these in daily cooking as much as possible, while listening to your body for uniquely what it needs. Incorporating spices into food makes them more bioavailable and works better synergistically with your food than if they were taken in supplemental form. Personally, I like cardamom and clove as well as ginger in my bulletproof coffee every morning, which incorporates plenty of fats coconut oil and grass fed butter to support my gall bladder.
This brings me to the next segment– part 2 of this topic, all about the benefits of the fats you eat and why they are so important to digestion as well as your overall health. This will go further in to what kinds of sources are important and necessary to include in the diet, as well as how your body uses these fats once they are properly absorbed.
*Affiliate Links: As a participant in Amazon Associates, LLC., I can refer readers directly to the products I recommend (with no change to the the product cost) for a small commission if you choose to purchase this product. This allows me keep my site running while simultaneously telling you about the products I have found to be the most nourishing and least toxic for the best price.