Fats That Heal: Fats That Kill
Dr. Udo Erasmus on Thyroid Disease, Weight Loss, and the Optimal Diet for Thyroid Patients
It's far more important to bring in the good fats than to avoid the bad fats. Low-fat and no-fat take us in the wrong direction. We need a right-fat approach.Ultimately, imbalances and deficiencies in essential fatty acids are, according to Dr. Erasmus, the cause, a trigger, or a contributing factor to many diseases and conditions, and addressing those deficiencies through proper foods, or use of healthy oils, can have huge implications for health. According to Dr. Erasmus, some benefits of proper essential fatty acid intake and balance include:
Thyroid Hormone Receptors
According to Dr. Erasmus, essential fatty acids are critical to thyroid function because, first, they are required for the integrity of the structure for every membrane of every cell. Second, they increase energy levels in the cell. And third, there is some evidence that essential fatty acids, especially Omega 3s, improve the efficiency of the hormones on the receptor sites.
To understand the importance of the receptor issue, think about the situation of diabetes. Pre-diabetes, the condition that is considered a marker for future diabetes, is also known as insulin resistance. Insulin is in the body, but it isn't being utilized because saturated fats block insulin receptor function, and ultimately receptors become desensitized -- and ultimately immune to and unable to receive -- insulin. Essential fatty acids are required for receptor function and can make diabetics more insulin sensitive. So diabetics taking essential fatty acids may need less receptors, and ultimately, less insulin.
Dr. Erasmus believes that this same mechanism takes place with other hormonal functions, such as the androgens, pineal glands, adrenal glands -- and specifically, the thyroid.
There are practitioners who believe that thyroid hormone resistance is not a rare occurrence, and is actually a more common sign of impending thyroid disease, much like insulin resistance is a precursor to diabetes. This issue of receptors is critical, because according to Dr. Erasmus, "With proper essential fatty acid nutrition, what will sometime happen is that you get fewer receptors but they work better." This would mean that proper levels of essential fatty acids might make the thyroid hormone receptors work better, so that thyroid hormone actually accomplishes its mission.
Dr. Erasmus also points to the role that essential fatty acids play in preventing and reducing inflammation. In particular, essential fatty acids make hormone-like eicosanoids that regulate immune and inflammatory responses, and Omega 3s in particular have anti-inflammatory effects that can slow autoimmune damage.
Inflammation of the thyroid -- known as goiter -- is central to many cases of autoimmune thyroid disease, and inflammation is seen in almost all autoimmune diseases in general.
Says Dr. Erasmus:
I believe that inflammation is at the core of nearly everything that goes wrong in the body, including cancer, diabetes, and cardiovascular problems. We know that Omega 3s decrease inflammation.Dr. Erasmus believes that if proteins are the juice, fats are the insulators, not just of nerves, but cells and membranes.) Protein reactions lead to inflammation, allergies and autoimmune disease. Essential fatty acids seem to help to prevent the proteins from becoming hyperactive -- and therefore triggering these various immune reactions
According to Dr. Erasmus, when thyroid function goes down, the metabolic rate goes down, and the body burns fewer carbohydrates. Dr. Erasmus believes that people with hypothyroidism should switch from grains and starches to green vegetables as their primary source of carbohydrates. Green vegetables, plus good fats and proteins, should form the core of the diet.
Sufficient essential fatty acids help increase energy and suppress appetite, thereby aiding in weight loss. In addition, they have been found to block the genes that produce fat in the body (saturated and trans fat do not have this same effect) and increase thermogenesis -- the burning of fat.
Dr. Erasmus actually feels that Omega 3s work better than the heralded conjugated linoleic acid (CLA). He feels that CLA may have some negative side effects, particularly at higher doses.
The Optimal Thyroid Diet
According to Dr. Erasmus, for a thyroid patient to lose weight, they need:
Udo's Oil: How Much Do You Need?
Certainly, if we could also focus our diet on vegetables, fish, and good fats from other foods, we'd be working toward redressing the imbalances in essential fatty acids.
But when diet is less than optimal, or you can't get enough of the foods that provide the right balance and quantity of Omega 3s and Omega 6s, then an option is to consider a supplement, such as Dr. Erasmus' oil, known as "Udo's Oil." Udo's Oil is an organic blend of oils, from fresh flax, sesame and sunflower seeds, as well as oils from evening primrose, rice germ and oat germ. This is a product I personally use and recommend, and have seen a number of people stabilize their thyroid function and lose weight after switching over to Dr. Erasmus' dietary recommendations, plus use of his oil.
Dr. Erasmus recommends a tablespoon of oil per 50 pounds of body weight per day in winter. That would mean 4 tablespoons a day for a 200 pound person in winter. The way you know you've taken enough oil is, according to Dr. Erasmus, your skin is not dry, flaky or itchy -- common complaints in the winter. Summer dosages can be dropped slightly, and again, dryness of skin should be used as the evaluation.
For weight loss, Dr. Erasmus has said that working with obese people, he has had them on as much as 5 tablespoons of oil a day. For rheumatoid arthritis patients, he's had them on as much as 10 tablespoons a day.
At high levels of oil, calorie intake goes up, so to reduce overall caloric intake, Dr. Erasmus recommends taking out carbohydrate calories - particularly starches, grains and fruits -- to make up for the calories in the oil, and concentrate the diet on healthy protein, green vegetables and the oil.
Is supplementation with essential fatty acids the answer for you? It may be worth trying for a few weeks to start, to see if you start to feel any of the short-term benefits, and notice a difference in your skin. Just remember that to avoid weight gain, you should decrease the amount of carbohydrates you are eating, in order to offset the oil's calories and maintain an optimal amount of daily calories.
For more information, explore Dr. Erasmus' website, at www.udoerasmus.com or read his book, Fats That Kill Fats That Heal.
All information is intended for your general knowledge only and is not a substitute for medical advice or treatment for specific medical conditions. You should seek prompt medical care for any specific health issues and consult your physician or health practitioner before starting a new treatment program. Please see our full disclaimer.