Western logic often dictates that low or no-fat diets are the ideal. In reality, this idea can be quite dangerous, especially in the case of gestating women. In fact, many ancient and indigenous cultures thrived on diets that were packed with plenty of real fat. In fact, Canadian Indians are said to have traditionally maintained a diet in which up to 80% of their calories were derived from fat. Not only was their diet rich in fat, it was rich in animal fat, another misunderstood concept in modern Western society.

Surviving off of little or no fat is not a healthy option for anyone and according to the pregnancy health book Healing Our Children, it may be particularly detrimental to pregnant and lactating women, as well as their developing babies. Fat is important in the diet of pregnant women, in particular, for several reasons. Here are just four of them brought to mind by Healing Our Children:

1. Fat stores energy

During pregnancy, your body needs even more energy than it typically would require. You are growing a life, and as it turns out that requires a large amount of resources.  Your normal stores of energy are zapped by the developing fetus. By putting more fat in your diet, you can ensure that you get enough calories to keep your body functioning properly on a regular basis.

Plus, eating enough healthy fats can help your body store a bit of extra fat. Even though our culture is obsessed with the supposed problem of pregnancy weight gain, the truth is that your body is biologically programmed to acquire extra energy as fat througout pregnancy. When the new baby arrives and begins breastfeeding, your body will use that fat to create high-fat breast milk that will help provide your child the energy and nutrients necessary for proper development.

2. Fat provides lubrication for our internal organs

Fat is an essential lubricant that helps us to remain healthy on the inside. While obesity may be a modern issue, overly low stores of fat is also a problem that women who are pregnant or trying to become pregnant should avoid. In fact, low levels of body fat as the result of a low- or no-fat diet are linked to problems with fertility, such as a complete lack of ovulation and the monthly menstrual cycle. Without fat in your diet, you could simply become too lean to support a healthy pregnancy!

3. Increased cholesterol is a good thing

According to Healing Our Children, several studies have shown that a high-fat diet does not actually make you more likely to fall victim to a heart attack. Additionally, one study from Dr. Harlan Krumholz of the Department of Cardiovascular Medicine at Yale University found that people who had low cholesterol were more likely to die from a heart attack as people who had high cholesterol!

With that said, a high-fat diet is actually not linked scientifically to higher amounts of blood cholesterol. Eating a fatty diet is actually healthier for your heart than eating a low-fat or non-fat diet!

4. Fats contain special vitamins you can’t get elsewhere

Vitamin deficiencies are a common issue with the modern human species, but they are especially problematic when it comes to pregnant women. You can’t possibly provide your growing baby with the nutrition he or she demands unless you’re providing your own body with the nutrition it requires. While it’s possible to get a variety of different vitamins and minerals from plants and other low-fat foods, there are specific vitamins and activators – such as vitamins A and E – that you can only obtain from fats, either animal fats or some plant fatty acids.

A reduced fat diet can mean that your body is low on many of these crucial nutrients. Since your body retains fat-soluble vitamins in your own fat and draws on your stores during pregnancy, with each subsequent pregnancy you’ll become lower and lower on these essential nutrients, causing any future children to have even more deficiency-related problems.

A real food diet is best!

When it comes right down to it, a diet that doesn’t include fats is not a diet of real foods. Low-fat and non-fat foods are usually highly processed, and since fat is one of the primary ingredients that makes food taste good to us, manufacturers often replace fats they’ve taken out of foods with extra sugar or other additives that are rather destructive to human health – especially when it comes to pregnant women and growing babies!

A natural diet as advocated by Healing Our Children is one that includes an abundance of fresh fruits and vegetables, for certain, but it’s one that also contains an ample supply of fats from healthy, organic animal and plant sources. A high-fat diet is essential during any time of life, but it’s never more necessary than during pregnancy and lactation.