Naturopathic Nutrition by Nicky Flood

The FATS of Life

Many of us have been brought up with the notion that eating fatty food leads to more curvaceous hips, a larger waistline and an early heart attack….. well I’m here to set the record straight. NOT ALL FATS ARE BAD. Some of them are very good for us and in fact, essential to health, giving us glowing skin, a healthy metabolism and protecting us from heart disease.

Like their name suggest, Essential Fatty Acids (EFA’s) are essential because the body cannot synthesise them from any other substance, which means that they can only be obtained from what we eat. The key EFA’s are Omega 3 and Omega 6 and we need these in a certain proportion to one another to stay healthy. We generally get more than enough Omega 6 from food so it is more about balancing it with a higher Omega 3 intake.

Omega 3’s help generate and maintain the fatty membranes which coat every cell in the body so are important for every aspect of health – good eyesight, strong immunity, healthy hormone balance, weight loss and protection against heart disease – not too shabby eh! One of their main benefits is that they can be converted into tiny hormone like substances called prostaglandins which act as cellular messengers communicating information necessary for immune cell activity and inflammatory reactions, protecting against hay fever, psoriasis, eczema, asthma and food allergies.

Grandma was right – fish really is brain food. 60% of our brain is comprised of fat and over half of that is Omega 3 which builds and maintains healthy brain tissue. Anxiety, mood swings, difficulty concentrating, memory problems, Alzheimer’s and ADD/ADHD have all been attributed to an Omega 3 deficiency and evidence is also greatly building for Depression and Dementia.

It is important to know what the good fats are… think avocado, fish (anchovies, mackerel, sardines, trout), nuts, seeds, flax, olive and rapeseed oils. If you feel you cannot include these foods in your diet or in sufficient amounts, I recommend that you supplement using a clean, high quality, low-contaminant product. Research continues to determine what other amazing benefits Omega 3’s have on our health… but I’m already sold!

Nicky is a Naturopathic Nutritionist practising in Dublin. She writes, speaks and advises nationwide on all aspects of health, nutrition and wellbeing. See for further info, upcoming courses and workshops.