Fats are an important building block for the development of cell structure and for other important roles in the body. For example, fats are a source of energy and are burned during times of sustained activity. Fat is also a major component of the myelin sheath, which is the protective layer found around nerve cells, so fat is critical for neurological function. Your body is constantly making fat in the form of cholesterol, which serves many purposes. Cholesterol acts as a precursor to the creation of several important hormones in the body, including testosterone and estrogen. Additionally, cholesterol is key in the production of vitamin D. On a cellular level, perhaps the most important role of fats is to create the lipid bilayer of the cell membrane. This membrane defines the boundaries of the cell, controls what goes into and out of the cells, and keeps the cell’s components inside the cell.
Because fats are so prevalent in structures throughout the human body, it is important to provide your body with the fuel that it recognizes in order for it to function properly. Eating a low fat or poor fat diet may lead to health problems down the road.
If you do not have enough fat in your diet, you will not have sufficient building blocks that your body needs to carry out its normal functions. Similarly, if you supply your body with poor quality fat, such as hydrogenated or trans fats, your body will take in those fats as it would a higher quality fat. Your body would then use this fuel to support its daily functions. However, as the components being input into the body are either insufficient or of suboptimal quality, the end result or output is suboptimal structure and function. Cells that are of suboptimal quality are weaker and more prone to invasion, damage, or death. On an organismal level, this can lead to disease and a general lack of vitality.
Most people fail to recognize that what they put into their bodies on a regular basis truly impacts every last cell in the body in some way or another. The old adage “one bite won’t hurt”, when referring to eating foods that are less healthful, may not always be true. Though our bodies are fairly resilient, continual intake of a poor diet is not sustainable for the body and eventually, our bodies will begin to break down. Supplying your body with good quality fats goes a long way toward achieving optimal health.