One big mistake many people make is to generalize all fats as being “bad” and avoid fat completely. In reality, fats are essential for healthy hormones, and a healthy body and brain. Each cell in our body is surrounded by a protective membrane made primarily of fat. This includes the cells of the brain. In fact, our brain is our fattiest organ: it's about 60% fat! The myelin sheath that covers our nerves is also made up of fat as well as protein. This cover helps our nerves transmit signals efficiently. Damage to these sheaths can result in serious neurological issues. Fats also regulate how our sex hormones are produced: we need fat to begin puberty, and ensure that our hormonal systems are working properly. Fats are EVERYTHING for a healthy body.
What's the difference between a water-soluble or fat-soluble hormone?
Water-soluble hormones get along with water (these include hormones like adrenaline). This means that they can move around in our blood, but get repelled when they reach fats - like a cell’s fatty membrane, for example. Water-soluble hormones bind to the outside of a cell, and initiate signals from there, without passing through the fatty outer layer of the cell.
Alternatively, fat-soluble hormones get along with fat (these include steroid hormones like estrogen and testosterone). This means that they have to move around the blood attached to a substance (a carrier) that gets along with water. In other words, it needs a “guide” to help it get around.
Think of when you took swimming lessons... you were probably able to move around much easier using a pool noodle and floaties! Much like this, a carrier helps a fat-soluble hormone travel throughout the blood. Once the fat soluble hormone reaches the cell, it detaches from its carrier and enters the cell to begin its work.
To help understand how water-soluble hormones interact with fat, (and vice-versa), think of what happens when you pour water in oil… they’ll never mix! This is why fat-soluble hormones need a water-loving carrier to help them get to their final cellular destination.
So… how do steroid hormones work? Once they enter the cell to do their job, they can travel all the way into the cell’s mission control (its nucleus). Here in the nucleus is where our DNA is stored. Steroid hormones bind to specific parts of our DNA and can affect our genes, as well as direct the cell to make proteins.
See how important our hormones are!? They impact everything in our body, down to our genes. I have lots more coming up on the importance of our hormones and how to take better care of our bodies to ensure they stay healthy.
Speaking of the importance of healthy fats... learn how to make avocado roses for a fun twist on classic avo toast- head to my Instagram page for this recipe packed with healthy fats!