Fat is an essential macromolecule that serves in thousands of functions within the human body. If you can name it, most likely there’s an element or step that has it as a prime necessity. Fat, as a term, has gotten a bit of a bad rap due to its prevalence, in excess, as a risk factor in most lifestyle diseases. But that’s coincidental. Fat, in its nutrient form: fatty acid, has its presence in every single cell in the body. Without it, the cells are pretty much useless. So in order to give fat and fatty acids its due justice, here are six reasons why they are important.
1. They’re Necessary For A Cell’s Existence
Fatty acids make up the cell membrane of every cell. That’s pretty big. They make up something called a “lipid bilayer” that allows for it to both hold water on the inside and keep excess water out. This very basic function is the reason why cells exist. In the formation of new cells, which your body does every single day, fatty acids are used for both a scaffolding and shape. In turn, the cell’s structure is not set in stone, but continually shaping and reshaping itself depending on the conditions of its environment. How? Cholesterol. Cholesterol is an important component of animal plasma layers in general, and they control what goes in and what goes out of the cell. Increase the cholesterol and you restrict movement of other lipids in the layer, decreasing permeability.
2. They Make Up The Majority of Neural Tissue
As stated before, every cell has a fatty acid component. But there’s one system that has more functional fat units per area than any other: your nervous system. Your brain is made of mostly fat, about sixty percent in fact. The membranes of your neurons are made up of two predominant molecules: Eicosapentaenoic Acid (EPA) and Docosahexaenoic Acid (DHA). These two are especially important in the formation of a baby human’s brain. Of course, the building blocks of the brain are important in development. But there’s a direct correlation between the amount of EPA and DHA consumed and the brain’s ability to form new connections. In the human diet, this is primarily found in fish and fish oils. Your body can make it out of Alpha Lipoic Acid (ALA), which is found in nuts and seeds, but not very well. There’s less than ten percent conversion to EPA and DHA compared to eating fish or taking fish oil supplements.
3. They’re The Backbone Of Very Important Hormones
Hormones control everything from how you feel, how you process food, to how you respond to danger. They’re the master switches that affect our daily interactions, inside and outside our body. Having essential fatty acids, as well as cholesterol, ensures that we have healthy and regulated hormones. This includes sex hormones as well, such as estrogen and testosterone. The health hormone function is the key to responding well to diet, exercise, and the benefits of sleep.
4. They May Help In Weight Loss
Omega 3 and Omega 7 fatty acids have been shown, in scientific studies, to help aid in weight loss. This is done through two mechanisms: increasing the speed of your metabolism, and decreasing appetite. These findings, although not universal, are significant. An extra 14% of daily calories were burned in people who took high doses of omegas in the form of fish oil. The composition of omega supplements matter. There’s a balance that needs to be kept. Often, we do not have much Omega-7 in our diet, so supplementation is our best option. Reputable sources like Omegaboom and those recommended by USADA are always preferable to off-the-shelf products. Some have a mix of a few different ones while Ultra Omega Burn is made from pure Omega 7. Keeping this balance ensures maximum benefit from the supplement. Test groups reported being able to stay on their diets longer due to the possible suppression of appetite. These two factors may not be a single magic bullet, but they cover two extremely important bases in the realm of fat loss: burning calories and controlling intake.
5. They Reduce Inflammation
Although the mechanism of action is still being researched, it is well known that omega-3 fatty acids have a measurable effect as an anti-inflammatory agent. As individuals living in the modern world, there are dozens of potential inflammatory compounds we are exposed to each day. And even if this process is normal, the fact of the matter is things like inhaling brake dust and eating trans fat is not something our ancestors lived with generations prior. Omega-3 fatty acids, in theory, can activate a self-clearing process our macrophage immune cells go through called autophagy. Autophagy literally means to eat oneself, and in this case, our overactive macrophages digest itself in order to make way for new, healthy ones. Thus, over the span of multiple organ systems, can lower the overall effects of constant inflammation.
6. They Help You Absorb Vitamins
There’s a whole class of vitamins and minerals that only absorb in your system if coupled with fat. These are called “fat soluble vitamins.” The list is long and growing, but it is important to note that very important ones such as Vitamin D, Vitamin A, and the various Vitamin E’s all need fat in order to be absorbed adequately. Without these vitamins, hundreds of thousands of bodily processes may go un-optimized. Good thing for us, we know how to properly ingest and even time the intake of these necessary nutrients.
Fatty acids are important no matter what. In the 1990s and early 2000s the big craze in the fitness and diet industry was “low fat.” Not surprisingly, this demonization of fat and fatty acids may have contributed to the boom of added sugars to most foods and a spike in childhood diabetes. Remember, no one macromolecule is bad. In naturally occurring foods, there’s no such thing as a good carb or a bad fat. So when it comes to you and your health, be smart. Do your research and take the time to know even a little bit about the benefits and sources of healthy fatty acids.