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Christopher Leet, MD, FACC
Fat The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly
. http://www.orthovirginia.com/

Fat The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly

Fat The Good, The Bad,
and The Ugly

Fat is good for you! What a statement. Yet in the right proportions, this white (adipose) fat is an essential component of a healthy lifestyle. The key is the proportions, and understanding the good, bad, and ugly types of fat.

“Good fat” is needed in minimal amounts to keep us warm, to store energy, to help filter out harmful substances, and to keep healthy skin, hair, and general cell function.

It also serves as a useful buffer towards a host of diseases. When a particular offending substance reaches unsafe levels in the bloodstream, the body can effectively dilute the offender by storing it in new fat tissue until it can be metabolized and removed from the body.

A recent “good fat” discovery in the adult body is called “brown fat”. It is a remnant from infancy that was thought not to play a role in adulthood. Recent research has found that instead, small amounts of this persist, and produce hormones that are active in a way that may actually help burn off excess fat at other areas of the body.

Synthesis of these hormones may be beneficial in the near future to help with controlling fat all over the body.

“Bad fat” is located around the intestines. Largely genetically determined, this fat is associated with a variety of hormones which control appetite, but also carry inflammatory substances which may cause diabetes as well as contributing to plaque development in the arteries, leading to heart attack, stroke, etc.

When we measure waist circumference we are gauging the extent of this fat. Waist circumference for men should be less than 40 inches, women less than 35 inches. Much of the obesity research is geared to counteracting the effects of these hormones, which have such a negative impact on the body.

“Ugly fat” is the body fat that all of us recognize. This is the substance accumulating under the skin from consuming more calories (energy) than we use. This produces the double chins, the love handles, and all of the other lumps and bumps. We gauge this by the Body-Mass Index(BMI), and the BMI generally should be less than 25. If it is much higher, there is an excess of stored energy or fat.

While it is chemically inert, the mass effect adds stress to the skeleton. The overload of the frame deteriorates the joints, causing arthritis and degeneration of the back, hips, knees, etc.

The promotion of fad diets is one of the most lucrative areas being marketed today. However, research has shown that the common denominator in nutritional control is simply calories, energy consumed and energy used.

Taking in fewer calories-or conversely, burning more off with activity or exercise-is the only realistic method for controlling body mass and maintaining a fit body. Fat is healthy, but only when maintained in a healthy proportion.

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