“They all are,” says Dr. Richard M. Baskin, a professor of medicine and pediatrics at the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center and a board-certified urologist. The bottom line, says Dr. Baskin: Eating fatty foods is more important than exercise, weight loss, or cutting out alcohol. “People can eat as much as they want, and they won’t be fat.”
But there is a very real potential for complications associated with eating fatty food. The most common is diabetes. Diabetes is a chronic illness, and because it’s not curable, the effects of excess eating—both good and bad—can lead to health problems.
Diabetes can be managed with a combination of weight management and insulin treatment. While it’s not clear exactly how much insulin is good for you, a 2015 study in Diabetes Care measured the effect of eating less than 10 grams of dietary fat on insulin resistance in people with type 2 diabetes.
Fat in food, particularly fat in animal fat (chicken, fish, dairy, and egg yolks) and refined fats like shortening, can contribute to insulin resistance. Even though animal fat is generally healthier for your health than processed food, it isn’t exactly benign either.
“We know eating fatty food increases insulin levels,” says Dr. Gail D. Glynn, a professor of medicine at Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis. Insulin resistance increases the number of blood vessels that dilate, which is what allows fatty tissues to retain water. Insulin resistance in a healthy body is not nearly as harmful as diabetes, but when it is present it can be more prevalent and, over time, more severe. As an adult, about 35,000 people in the United States have Type 2 diabetes—a number expected to go up to 40,000 by 2060.
Another possible complication with eating too much fat is called nephropathy. In the 1920s and 1930s, doctors noticed that people with kidney failure who ate a high-fat diet developed a condition involving large, hard nodules of blood in their kidneys. Eventually, this condition was called nephrolysis and became a known cause of high platelet count. The main target of the cancer was the kidney. In fact, many of those who develop nephropathy are thought to have had a diet rich in fatty foods. In some cases, nephrolysis can affect all four of your kidneys, which can
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