WHY WE ARE NOT FRIENDS WITH NONFAT MILK
AND OTHER THOUGHTS ON EATING FAT
An Interview with Becca Stott, Licensed Acupuncturist and Chinese Herbalist
Becca is one of those rare healers who has devoted the last 20 years of her life to rigorously sorting the true alternative health advice from the fad health crazes. She is grounded in the Chinese Medical Model, but has a long history with Western Herbs and nourishing culinary traditions from around the world. So, we picked her brain about the pin-in-your-panties topic to which we all can relate: fat. Here’s what she had to say:
THE MEDICINE CHEST: ARE WE FRIENDS WITH NONFAT MILK? WHY OR WHY NOT?
BECCCA: Whoa. This question is a complex one because it involves two dietary no-no’s in one food: Pasturized dairy, and low-fat anything. I’ll just say first that I think pasteurized dairy products are very hard for most people to digest. In the process of killing off “bad” bacteria with high temperatures, the pasteurization process also kills off all of the enzymes that help us digest the milk plus the beneficial bacteria that keep our gut healthy. I won’t get too much into politics here, but I will say that I think it is a huge misfortune that fear tactics have been used by our government and big business to keep most of us from having access to raw dairy. There are many cultures around the world that still view raw milk as a medicinal food.
To answer your other question about low-fat foods I will give a few short reasons why I believe them to be unhealthy, and why we need healthy fat (a lot of it) in our diet.
1)Our cell walls are partially made of fat. When we don’t eat fat or when we eat bad fats (see next question), we change the molecular structure of our cell walls, in effect limiting their function and requiring repair substances such as cholesterol to step in and “smooth” things out.
2)Many of our body’s systems require large amounts of fat-soluble vitamins such as vitamins A, D, K, and E in addition to the essential fatty acids such as omega 3, 6 and 9. When we don’t eat enough foods containing these fats we suffer from lower immunity, poor skin health, lower brain functioning, and hormonal imbalances (for starters).
3) Fat acts similarly to how fiber works in slowing down the rate at which sugar enters the bloodstream. Foods that have had the fat removed such as low-fat yogurt, for example, have much higher amounts of what’s left—the sugars… Compare the amount of carbs in a whole-milk plain yogurt to that of a non-fat plain yogurt the next time you are in the grocery store. When we eat low-fat, high-carbohydrate foods, the sugar enters the bloodstream quickly, requiring the body to release high amounts of insulin in order to stabilize it. It is this release of insulin that sends a message to the fat cells saying “store this for later!” which causes weight gain… not to mention many other problems such as metabolic syndrome, adrenal fatigue, and diabetes. So, contrary to what many still believe to be true, eating fat (especially good fat) does not necessarily make us fat.
I’ll also add that foods higher in fat usually allow for quicker and greater satiety, thus reducing the amount one needs to eat in one sitting and throughout the day. Eating reduced-fat foods usually leads to an eventual blood sugar crash which often causes a person to want more food, and more quick carbs for energy— a vicious cycle.
M.C.: WHICH FATS WOULD YOU SUGGEST PEOPLE EAT AND WHICH WOULD YOU SUGGEST THEY AVOID?
BECCA: In a nutshell: Animal products are a great source for obtaining the fats and fat-soluble vitamins I mentioned above because these vitamins are mainly found in saturated fats. These foods include meat, poultry, fish, butter/ghee, lard, tallow, and raw, full-fat dairy products. I recommend using organic and preferably grass-fed animal products because the residual hormones and pesticides used on commercially-grown/ raised animals tends to be stored in the fat of the animal. Fish are important for providing the omega fatty acids, which are more easy to assimilate than when obtained from plant sources such as flax seed oil. Additionally, extra virgin coconut oil and olive oil are two vegetable oils which provide healthy dietary fats, especially if someone is choosing not to eat animal products. I recommend avoiding or limiting the use of most polyunsaturated vegetable oils such as sunflower, safflower, corn, cottonseed, etc because they are always refined and therefore most likely rancid and having the effect of trans-fat in the body (something I won’t go into detail about here, but is not good). Canola is just plain evil, coming from the inedible “rapeseed” and needing so much bleaching and refinement that it is probably more like liquid plastic than oil.
M.C.: IS THERE SUCH A THING AS TOO MUCH FAT IN A PERSON’S DIET? WHAT ABOUT HEART DISEASE?
BECCA: The link between heart disease and dietary fat is such a huge topic (!) and one that would take a long time to explain. Instead of trying to get into it here, I will give your readers some links to check out if they are interested in hearing the alternative side of the story.
M.C.: ANYTHING ELSE TO ADD TO THIS PLUMP TOPIC?
BECCA: Just that I understand how controversial and confusing some of this information can be to sift through. I’d advise your readers to spend some time on the websites linked above if for no other reason than to understand how much is being left out of mainstream media. And, I will also say to the vegetarians reading this, that I can empathize with some of the ethical reasons for choosing that lifestyle, however I cannot agree with the common "health-related" reasons, mainly because of the lack of healthy plant-based fats available.
M.C.: THANK YOU SO MUCH FOR SHARING YOUR KNOW HOW AND TIME. WHAT KIND OF HEALING DO YOU DO, AND HOW CAN I MAKE AN APPOINTMENT
BECCA: I practice acupuncture, Chinese herbalism, Medical Qi Gong and cranio-sacral therapy, and have a background in nutritional therapy. Find me at: