Back To The Basics: Detoxing
There's a hundred ways to say it: You can't performance tune a broken engine. You can only run so fast with an injured back. No sense trying to crank up the volume on your sweet stereo if it's going to blow a fuse because your power supply isn't robust enough.
We spend a lot of time here at Synchro focusing on pushing boundaries; using innovative nutrition and practices to reach for new levels of mental and athletic performance, new levels of vibrant energy and optimal well-being. Sometimes it's good to return to the basics, to make sure there's nothing fundamental in your diet that is acting as a silent drain on your health, keeping you from getting the most out of the work you're putting in in other areas of your fitness and nutrition practice.
One of the most common areas that even very healthy people overlook is the presence of toxins in their diet. Most healthy eaters will diligently wash their produce to remove pesticides, or intentionally avoid processed foods with ingredients with complicated names. These are great steps to take, but there are other less obvious toxin sources that can be even more dangerous if unchecked.
For example, did you know foods as healthy as olive oil, flax seeds or almonds can be turned toxic depending on how you cook them?
The threat we're talking about is from oxidized fats. We're big advocates of a high healthy fat diet at Synchro and this is something we write about often in our blog. But there is a flip side to fats that make some fats not only unhealthy but potentially toxic. With a bit of knowledge and mindfulness while cooking, it is easy to avoid this dangerous side of fats.
A Bit Of Background On Fats
There are countless types of fats out there, but a convenient way to subdivide them is saturated and unsaturated fats. There are fats in both categories that are essential for optimal health. When using oils for cooking, however, it is critical to know what types of fats are in your cooking oil and at what temperatures to use them.
The danger with cooking oils comes from the fact that unsaturated fats can be oxidized at temperatures commonly used in cooking. When a fat is oxidized, it breaks down into unstable molecules that are toxic and disruptive in the body. These damaged fats are highly oxidative and can wreak havoc in the body. They disrupt metabolic processes, damage cells and cause inflammation, and in the process drain energy levels and pull you further from optimal vibrant living.
Unfortunately, almost all vegetable oils are rich in these easily-oxidized unsaturated fats and should be used for cooking only at very low temperatures. Olive oil is one that healthy people commonly use for cooking applications, but in reality it is very prone to being damaged by even low heat and making your meal into a toxic one. The table below shows common oils and their relative percentages of saturated fats (safe) to unsaturated fats (unsafe). In general, the oils furthest to the left are the safest to cook with.
(PUFA=polyunsaturated fatty acid, MUFA=monounsaturated fatty acid, SA=saturated fatty acid, ...Coconut Oil is the safest to cook with, followed by ghee and butter)
The Wonder Of Coconut Oil
Saturated fats on the other hand, are very heat-stable and are resistant to oxidation at the temperatures used in normal cooking. Coconut oil, butter and ghee are all comprised largely of saturated fats, with coconut oil topping the charts. These are the only oils that we consider safe to cook with.
Coconut oil is a legitimate superfood and in addition to being the only oil we use in cooking, it has numerous other powerful energizing, performance enhancing effects in the body. The specific type of saturated fats in coconut oil are referred to as Medium Chain Tryglycerides (MCT's). These fats are converted very efficiently into energy and are rarely stored in fat cells in the body. MCT's are also a fuel source used preferentially by the brain, and it is common to experience improved cognitive performance when consuming high levels of MCT's. Because of this brain-fueling characteristic, MCT's and coconut oil have even been used successfully to treat degenerative brain diseases such as Alzheimer's.
An important side note: There is a TON of misinformation about saturated fats and heart disease that was perpetuated in the late 80's to early 90's. These studies have since been repeatedly disproven and shown to be based on intentionally misleading data. The culprit in this misinformation? The commercial grain industry yet again! In an attempt to see more widespread use of vegetable oils, including corn oil, they funded studies that were designed to be intentionally misleading in incorrectly correlating saturated fat with heart disease. Recent research on the subject confirms that not only are saturated fats safe to eat, but they are in fact essential and healthy even at relatively high levels of consumption.