STRUCTURAL vs STORAGE FATS
In the year of NOHA's founding, Professor Michael A. Crawford of the Zoological Society of London and his wife, Sheilagh Crawford, published a book, What We Eat Today. They describe very interesting work with animals and what they eat culminating with material on human beings. The book primarily discusses the destruction of structural fats in our present day processed foods. The tremendous change in the ratio of structural fats to storage fats in meat animals resulting from cutting down their movements and their intensive feeding for weight gain is also given emphasis. Concentrating on the fastest and most profitable weight gain has resulted in essentially obese animals. These animals supply us with only tiny amounts of structural fats and with great quantities of the depot or storage fats that create many problems for our own obese population. On the other hand, if we are athletic types who run many miles each day, these highly saturated fats can be metabolized for energy. Unfortunately, if we do not get sufficient exercise for our calorie intake, the animal body can convert both carbohydrate and protein into even more saturated storage fat. We are all familiar with all the deleterious effects of too much depot fat. However, there are other kinds of fats or lipids, some of which we cannot produce within ourselves. Specifically, structural fats are needed inside every cell in our bodies and are especially necessary for the growth of the fetal brain. These lipids and their fatty acid precursors are delicate, easily oxidize, and turn rancid so food processors always want to eliminate them, or hydrogenate them into something that won't "spoil." Of course, in changing them, they eliminate their vital structural function.
Certain polyunsaturated fatty acids, alphalinolenic ("omega 3") and linoleic ("omega 6"), are made by plants and not by animals so that both these two "essential fatty acids" must be obtained by us in foods. Animals (including us) incorporate them into the structure of their cells and can also make them longer and more unsaturated. These metabolites of the simple essential fatty acids are very important constituants of the grey matter of our brains.
As we pointed out, these polyunsaturated compounds are unstable and easily oxidized. However, in nature they are combined with antioxidants, for example, vitamin E in seed oils.
The omega 3 and omega 6 fatty acids are differently dispersed in different parts of plants and the omega 6 metabolites can never be converted in the animal's body to omega 3 metabolites and visa versa. Free roaming herbivores, such as buffalo, eland, or giraffe, eat all parts of the plants: seeds, twigs, flowers, etc., not just grass. In this way they obtain a balance of essential fatty acids. It is questionable if this is true of our domesticated animals fed on a monotonous diet.
Crawford and Crawford point out that herbivores metabolize the essential fatty acids from plants into the polyunsaturated fats needed by animals. Carnivores eat this excellent assemblage of nutrients giving them a metabolic advantage for the development of the brain and nervous system as well as the concomitant vascular system.
Summarizing with a quote from the authors, "The dangers can now be foreseen and are simple. We now know for a fact that certain unstable lipids or fats are found in the human brain, in the arteries, and to a lesser extent, in every cell in the body. We also know that these lipids are present in the food chain but are being lost. Recent ecological and technical manipulation have consistently and unwittingly fiddled with the building materials for the human brain. In our view, if you distort and depress the availability of the lipid building blocks you are asking for brain reduction in size and capacity. Similarly, degenerative effects on longevity and performance, the nervous and vascular systems and reproductive systems, could also be predicted."
Finally, to take a positive approach, avoid the processed foods that destroy the unstable lipids, eat ocean fish, and look for meat from animals that have been allowed to roam in rough pasture with lots of bushes and weeds, namely the equivalent of the traditional English "commons."
Article from NOHA NEWS, Vol. XII, No. 1, Winter 1987, pages 3-4.