Episode 134: Vegetable Oils: Is Total Avoidance Necessary?

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Thanks for joining us for episode 134 of The Ancestral RDs podcast. If you want to keep up with our podcasts, subscribe in iTunes and never miss an episode! Remember, please send us your question if you’d like us to answer it on the show.

Today we are answering the following question from a listener:

“Hi Kelsey & Laura! I love your podcast and am so grateful for the wealth of knowledge you both share. I appreciated your breakdown of the myths surrounding sugar and I wondered if you could do a similar episode about vegetable oils. It’s thrown around that they are toxic in the same way sugar is called toxic and I wondered if there can be room for any vegetable oils within a healthy, real food diet, or if you recommend excluding them 100%?  I’m referring to grape seed, canola, sunflower, etc. rather than olive or coconut oil. Here are my two specific questions:

  1. Do variations like organic, expeller-pressed or first cold-pressed make vegetables oils like canola, safflower, sunflower, grapeseed healthier, or do those processes not make a difference? I’m not talking about olive or coconut oils here.
  2. I recently read Laura’s blog about how it’s possible to overdo it with the anti-inflammatories. I know that the major concern with these vegetable oils is the inflammatory process, but is a little inflammation from vegetable oils really something to be super concerned about, or is it something a healthy, resilient system with plenty of antioxidants can keep within equilibrium? Thank you.”

With the conflicting opinions about the health effects of vegetable oils in the conventional and Paleo nutrition spheres, it’s no wonder there’s question as to if they should be included in our diet or avoided at all costs. This is an episode not to be missed as we address the claim that vegetable oils are toxic and discuss whether or not they have a place in a healthy diet.

Just some of what you’ll learn is why polyunsaturated fats are considered problematic and the various ways vegetable oils are processed.  You’ll also gain an understanding of why some omega 6 fats are actually required for health and how the consumption of omega 3 and 6 fats differ between American and traditional cultures.

Not only will you come away with practical strategies for minimizing vegetable oils without obsessing over total avoidance, but also tips on what kind of oils are best to use when needed.

Please note: We switched up the single vs. double bond discussion regarding saturated vs. unsaturated fats. (Oops!) This error has been corrected in the transcript.

Here’s what Laura and Kelsey will be discussing in this episode:

  • [00:07:48] How polyunsaturated fats differ from other types of fats
  • [00:10:33] How polyunsaturated fats are prone to oxidative damage
  • [00:06:13] The problem with the processing of vegetable oils
  • [00:18:01] Why plants are being bred to create high oleic oils
  • [00:20:30] Cases where using a high oleic oil may be a beneficial option compared to other omega 6 oils
  • [00:25:59] The difference between how a cold pressed and expeller pressed oil is made
  • [00:30:40] How some omega 6 fats are actually required by the body for health
  • [00:37:15] How the consumption of omega 3 and 6 fats differ between American and traditional cultures and guidelines for how much polyunsaturated fat should be in the diet
  • [00:44:10] The importance of Vitamin E when consuming polyunsaturated fat
  • [00:46:55] Strategies for minimizing polyunsaturated oils without obsessing over total avoidance


Links Discussed:


Laura: Hi everyone! Welcome to Episode 134 of The Ancestral RDs podcast. I’m Laura Schoenfeld and with me as always is my co-host Kelsey Kinney.

Kelsey: Hey everyone!

Laura: We’re Registered Dietitians with a passion for ancestral health, real food nutrition, and sharing evidence based guidance that combines science with common sense. You can find me, Laura, at LauraSchoenfeldRD.com, and Kelsey over at KelseyKinney.com.

Over the next 30 to 45 minutes we’ll be answering your questions about health and nutrition, and providing our insights into solving your health challenges with practical tips and real food. Stick around until the end of the show where we’ll be sharing some updates about our business and personal lives.

Kelsey: If you’re enjoying the show, subscribe on iTunes so that you never miss an episode. And while you’re there, leave us a positive review so that others can discover the show as well!

And remember, we want to answer your question, so head over to TheAncestralRDs.com to submit a health related question that we can answer on an upcoming show.

Laura: Today on the show we’re going to be answering two questions about vegetable oils; whether or not they’re toxic or inflammatory and if there are any plant food oils that can be included in a healthy, real food diet. This is an important topic for both ancestral health newbies as well as those of us who have been eating this way for years, so we’re excited to dig into it. But before we get into our question for the day, here’s a quick word from our sponsor:

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Kelsey: Welcome back, everybody! Here is our question for today’s show:

“Hi Kelsey & Laura! I love your podcast and am so grateful for the wealth of knowledge you both share. I appreciated your breakdown of the myths surrounding sugar and I wondered if you could do a similar episode about vegetable oils. It’s thrown around that they are toxic in the same way sugar is called toxic and I wondered if there can be room for any vegetable oils within a healthy, real food diet, or if you recommend excluding them 100%?  I’m referring to grape seed, canola, sunflower, etc. rather than olive or coconut oil. Here are my two specific questions:

  1. Do variations like organic, expeller-pressed or first cold-pressed make vegetables oils like canola, safflower, sunflower, grapeseed healthier, or do those processes not make a difference? I’m not talking about olive or coconut oils here.
  2. I recently read Laura’s blog about how it’s possible to overdo it with the anti-inflammatories. I know that the major concern with these vegetable oils is the inflammatory process, but is a little inflammation from vegetable oils really something to be super concerned about, or is it something a healthy, resilient system with plenty of antioxidants can keep within equilibrium? Thank you.”

Laura: I thought this was a really good question. It’s funny because I think with the vegetable oil question, there’s always so much back and forth about it both in just the conventional nutrition world and the ancestral or Paleo nutrition world. I feel like both sides of the equation…I would say both sides of that question are maybe not 100 percent accurate, which I feel like happens a lot with a lot of the types of questions.

I think that kind of applied to sugar as well where on the one side the Paleo community is like nobody should ever eat sugar at all for any reason, even fruit sugar you should be moderate with. That kind of thing. And then there’s more of that conventional dietetics type approach to sugar where it’s like everything in moderation, and white sugar is fine, and that kind of thing. I feel like there’s always like a middle ground between those two perspectives. That is the way I see a lot of these questions and I feel like you’re probably the same way.

Vegetable oils are a little tougher because they are one of these things that on the one hand most of the conventional medical and nutritional guidelines in this country actually support high amounts of omega 6 and polyunsaturated fats. I’ll talk about what those are in a second. But on that end, they’re basically saying eat lots of those, eat as many as you can, most of your fat should be coming from polyunsaturated fats, cook with vegetable oil and canola oil, that kind of thing. They’re basically pushing those oils on more of the conventional side of the equation.

And then on the Paleo, and Weston Price, and all those other ancestral health side of the nutrition question, they’re often saying don’t ever use those, and they’re terrible for you, and the woman who asked this question said that they’re toxic.

I just want to kind of talk about why people say polyunsaturated fats are toxic, why they’re something that should be avoided. I do want to answer a little bit about the question what processes make one of these seed oils better or not better, and then also just getting into the inflammation discussion a little bit.

I don’t know if I’m going to be able to cover everything that this person is asking just because honestly this could be like a 10 page article or something like that covering all the different components of the question and also like if you’re going to use those oils, when is that appropriate, what kind of oils should you use? That kind of thing.

I’m just going to give a very basic overview of the way I perceive the question because I don’t want to over-complicate things. I feel like that’s one issue in the nutrition world is that people will make all these really complicated rules about food because people like to know black and white answers about should I eat this? Should I avoid this? I don’t necessarily think we need to understand 100 percent of everything about these foods to understand how to incorporate them into our diet or how to not incorporate them.

First obviously we have to describe what polyunsaturated fats are. A lot of times you’ll see these abbreviated as the term PUFAs in some of the articles that you’ll read online. Polyunsaturated fats are found in high amounts in our modern vegetable oils and industrial seed oils; things like soybean oil, canola oil, corn oil, safflower oil, sunflower oil, anything that’s like a seed oil or some kind of vegetable oil. Obviously avocado or olive oil doesn’t count towards these.

But polyunsaturated fats essentially, just without going too deep into the biochemistry, fatty acids have either double bonds or single bonds between the carbons on their tails essentially. Saturated fats have all double single bonds. Monounsaturated fats have one single double bond which gives them some amount of flexibility at room temperature so that’s why they form an oil versus a solid fat. And then polyunsaturated fats have multiple unsaturated bonds or single double bonds.

The type of polyunsaturated fat is going to determine how many bonds they have that are unsaturated, at what point on the tail are they unsaturated. That’s why when we talk about omega 3 versus omega 6, we’re actually talking about the position of the single double bond in that fatty acid chain.

That’s just like I said very scratching the surface of the biochemistry behind those fats. But I just think it’s important to understand what we’re talking about when we discuss polyunsaturated versus monounsaturated versus saturated.

These oils are not called high oleic oils. That means that they’re pretty high in polyunsaturated fats. I will talk in a few minutes about what high oleic means, just because it is becoming a more popular term. But if you don’t see that word “high oleic” then you can assume they’re pretty high in PUFAs.

The reason that PUFAs are considered to be a problem in the Paleo or ancestral health community is because they’re generally highly unstable. That just means that they’re prone to faster oxidation or oxidative damage and that just means that they’re able to be damaged by free radicals.

And again, I’m not going to go deep into the biochemistry of this because I don’t think it’s that important to understand. It’s not that it’s not good to understand, it’s just that for the context of a short podcast I don’t need to go into the level of detail. If you want I will put links in the show notes about various resources you can check out for more information. Chris Masterjohn is a great person to read or listen to his podcast if you want to learn more about PUFAs.

Long story short, just the number of single bonds means that they’re more prone to oxidative damage. A lot of times oxidatively damaged oil is going to be one that changes colors. It’ll go from like a clear light yellow to brown if it’s gotten really damaged. If you’ve ever smelled a rancid oil, that’s something that most people at least know…well, actually I don’t know. I wonder if people know what rancid oils smell like.

I think of that as being something that’s obvious, but I just realized…this is kind of like a side note, but my husband and I had gone to eat at Moe’s, I think is what it’s called, a couple of weeks ago. We only went there because we were both starving. We had no other options. It was just like whatever, let’s just go. I figured it would be like Chipotle, which I was very wrong. Maybe it was just this particular location, but I was not pleased by the quality of the food.

He had gotten chips on the side of his meal. I’ll usually have some corn chips. I’m not totally opposed to eating that kind of stuff. I might have a couple of chips with salsa or something like that as part of the meal.  I had like one or two of them and I was just like these smell funny. I kept smelling the bag. I’m like I think these are rancid, I don’t really think these are good to eat. My husband smells them and he’s like I don’t smell anything wrong with them. I was like well we’re throwing these out. I don’t care if you can’t smell it. I think these are bad. You can have a few because I am not going to nag him or tell him can’t eat something, but I’m like we’re not keeping these. We’re going to throw them out once you’ve had what you wanted for the meal.

It is funny because I feel like I talk about rancidity as being something you would think people know what that smells like or what that looks like. But I actually think maybe they don’t. I don’t know if it’s just because people are used to eating more rancid foods, unfortunately.  I know my husband before we were together probably ate a lot of fried food. He still has eats fried food than I would… if I had total control of his diet, I would not have him eating this much, but it is something that a lot of people eat a lot of.  I don’t know if everyone knows what rancidity smells like.

Kelsey: I know. To me it’s like one of those smells that I feel like I can just pick out of anywhere. It’s like oh yeah, I know exactly what that smell smells like. But I think you’re right. A lot of people probably do eat some stuff that is at least fairly rancid on a somewhat regular basis. So yeah, of course to them it may just seem kind of normal.

Laura: Yeah. If something gets like a bacterial overgrowth and smells really bad, that’s totally different than rancidity. It just depends on why it’s turning rancid. If it’s just sitting on a shelf, it’s actually a fairly slow process. It could get like a little rancid and you maybe wouldn’t notice it. I know I’ve had nuts before that smelled a little off and I’m like are these rancid? Maybe I should throw them out, I’m not sure.

So it’s not like it’s just black and white, like all of a sudden within a day it’s all gone rancid and it’s bad. It can be like 10 percent rancid or something because it’s just about the oils that are getting oxidized. If it smells clearly rancid…I’m trying to think. Rancid I would probably describe….

Kelsey: I know. How do you describe it?

Laura: Maybe like a sour kind of smell.

Kelsey: I almost would describe it as sort of like a musty-ish smell. It’s hard to describe.

Laura: There should be some kind of education. This is way going off on a tangent, but I’m thinking we learned food safety in dietetics school and it was all about like temperature and just how to prevent something from getting bacterial overgrowth, that kind of thing. As far as I remember, I don’t remember ever getting taught what rancid smells like and I think that would be a really important thing to know. That’s kind of a side note just because I feel like people just don’t… like people eat things that are rancid all the time and they don’t even realize it.

But rancid is really bad because it’s going beyond just a more inflammatory oil that is more prone to damage in our bodies. It’s actually consuming something that’s already been damaged and so you’re already incorporating these fatty acids that have damage to the fatty acid chain and your body can actually use those as part of its structure. There’s a lot of different things that can happen when you’re consuming oils that are already damaged by free radicals. We don’t want to be eating rancid oils.

Obviously most of the oils that people are eating are not rancid, so it’s not like it has to be rancid to cause problems. But you can imagine that if these oils go bad faster outside of the body and they get oxidized faster, than you can imagine that they would get oxidized faster within the body as well and more damaged by free radicals.

The nice thing about the other fats like saturated fats and monounsaturated fats is that they’re much more stable. They don’t really oxidize, certainly not nearly as easily. I think it would take a lot more for something like a monounsaturated fat to become oxidized.

If you think about olive oil, olive oil can be stored for a really long time without going bad. You just compare that to something like a nut or seed oil that actually if it wasn’t processed, it might go bad even faster. That’s why in the Paleo and ancestral community, we would consider saturated and monounsaturated fats to be less inflammatory, more healthy, better for us to be eating.

The other problem with PUFAs especially in these oils that we’re talking about is a lot of times they’re highly processed. There’s a video that I can link to in the notes, I’m just going to make a note to myself. But there is a video about how it’s made when it comes to the industrial seed oils. It’s like that series “How It’s Made” and they have different food products that they look at. They have one for, I don’t know if it’s soybean oil or canola oil. It’s one of these oil.

Kelsey: I think it’s canola.

Laura: Yeah, I think you’re right. You can actually see the process that the oil goes through to be produced and sold. It’s actually kind of scary how much processing goes into it. They’re like bleaching it and deodorizing it and all this crazy stuff.

It’s like compared to other oils…like butter is you milk a cow, and you skim the cream off, and then you churn the cream, and then it’s butter. My general way of describing it to people that don’t know the biochemistry behind the stuff is like if you can identify how to make that oil in your kitchen, then it’s probably a good oil to eat. If you couldn’t think of how to make it, then you probably don’t want to eat it. If you think about something like corn, I have no idea how to make oil out of corn in my kitchen. I don’t even think it’s possible unless maybe there’s some special technique that I’m not aware of. Whereas making oil from olives or nuts and seeds, you can press those. Maybe you don’t get a ton of oil out of them, but you can actually fairly easily extract oil from those items. And again with dairy fat or animal fats, those are very obvious as far as how to get the fat into your actual solid or liquid form. That’s kind of a more practical way of thinking about omega 6 fats and why they need to go through so much processing.

Now I had mentioned that high oleic is a way that a lot of these oils are now described and they’re being bred that way. That just means the oil is high in a monounsaturated fat called oleic acid. Some oils like olive oil are actually naturally high in oleic acid. Something like an olive oil or an avocado oil might actually have oleic acid naturally. But a lot of these other plants like soybeans or sunflower seeds, they’re being bred to actually contain high amounts of oleic acid. The main reason that those oils are being developed is because all the concern and the rightful concern about partially hydrogenated trans fats has led to the need for a different type of shelf stable fat to be used.

We were mentioning how polyunsaturated fats are pretty unstable, they get rancid really easily, which if any oil is sitting on the shelf for too long, it’s going to go bad. For the processed food industry, they need oils that they can use that aren’t going to go bad because otherwise their packaged foods have a much shorter shelf life. They’ve put a lot of effort into developing these high oleic oils so that they can be used in processed foods and that way they will also have a longer shelf life. They won’t go bad as fast. They won’t need to use those partially hydrogenated trans fats as an oil so they can actually say that they’re healthy, that kind of thing. So there is a lot of benefit to the food industry to be using those high oleic oils.

These oils are also often used in restaurants as a like a deep frying oil and that’s because it retains its flavor a lot longer despite the repeated use of the oil compared to those other omega 6 fats. I don’t know if you’ve worked in a restaurant before, Kelsey.

Kelsey: I have.

Laura: I’m sure you’ve seen the vat of oil that they’re dipping fried foods into.

Kelsey: Yes.

Laura: We won’t go into the problems with that in general, but those oils, they’re used over and over until they start to go bad. A lot of times the color changes where the restaurant will say they’re starting to get a little brown, let’s throw them out and replace them. Restaurants like to use these high oleic oils because those oils last a lot longer with the higher monounsaturated fat content and that way they can use an oil that might only last a couple of days in a fryer in a restaurant can then maybe last a week or so and that can save a lot of money.

Generally I would say that high oleic oils are not as bad as just regular high omega 6 oils. If you’re comparing something like a high oleic sunflower oil compared to just the normal sunflower oil or maybe something like corn oil or soybean oil, that kind of thing, you are better off using the high oleic oil. So if there’s any reason that you would need to use a seed oil in cooking or some kind of product, then using a high oleic oil is a good idea.

I know that for example there’s a mayo company that I use. I want to say it’s called Sir Kensington. I don’t use it all the time. I had been using it before Mark Sisson came out with his mayo and then I kind of switched over. But I still use the Sir Kensington stuff. It’s not that I don’t like it, I just was trying the Mark Sisson stuff. I don’t use that much mayo in my food in general so I have a lot of it let. But the Sir Kensington mayo uses high oleic sunflower oil in their product. So that is a situation where it’s not like we’re deep frying with the oil. It’s in a cold product that’s being kept in the fridge. It’s one of those things that at least until the primal mayo was available, it was actually not a bad option.

But when we’re talking about like deep frying oils and we’re having fried chicken in high oleic oil as opposed to the normal oil, I don’t know how much benefit really you’re getting just because of the high temperature and just the problems that can come from high heat cooking with starches and proteins, that kind of thing.

Kelsey: Right. It would probably make more sense like you were talking about for the restaurant in terms of being able to use it longer rather than any health benefit for you as the person consuming it.

Laura: Right, exactly. I don’t want people to think that because the restaurant is cooking with this oil that it’s somehow making the food healthy. It’s just maybe making the food less bad. But usually in products, it just depends on the product. Like I said, if it’s something that’s like deep fried in the oil, there’s damage that comes from cooking anything at that high of a temperature regardless of the oil that you’re using. Whereas if it’s just an oil mixed into something like a salad dressing or a mayo, then that’s going to reduce the potential problems from that oil from a health perspective. That’s just one thing to keep in mind as far as like how do these oils come into our diet and is it something we need to avoid 100 percent?

Kelsey: I would imagine those oils, the high oleic ones are still just as processed as something like canola oil in general. Do you know if they’re using like specific…I assume they’re using specific plant breeds to get the higher oleic content, correct?

Laura: With the high oleic oils, I know that the sunflower oils are ones that a lot of the health food industry really likes. I was at the Weston Price Conference recently and there was a high oleic sunflower oil company that was advertising, or like they had a booth and they were kind of promoting themselves as a good oil option for people in the Midwest because sunflowers can grow really well in the Midwest just the way corn can. They were basically saying like we’re a healthy oil, and it’s sustainable, and it’s this naturally occurring oil for this local area. Which I think actually makes a lot of sense because we think about something like avocado or olive, there’s a lot of parts of the country that don’t necessarily grow that kind of food.

If we’re going to need an oil like that, then yeah, using some kind of high oleic version is definitely better. Now I will say I do think that there’s a chance… and I have to double check this, but there’s a chance that these foods could be GMOs. Now if it’s organic, then it can’t be. That’s why looking for an organic either cold pressed or expeller pressed high oleic oil, that’s probably going to be your best bet if you’re looking in the grocery store and you need an oil like that.

The reason why people might want to have an oil, and actually I’ll talk about this a little bit more later, but there would be some benefits to using that kind of oil. Again, mayo is a great example of one that using olive oil in a mayo usually doesn’t usually taste very good. There may be some practical reasons that having a good quality high oleic sunflower oil for example might actually make sense, but it’s not something you’d be using all the time. It’s not something that you need to be replacing other fats with. I just like to look at it as an option.

Again, I don’t know what the potential for GMOs is in the high oleic products. Obviously things like soy, they use a lot of pesticides on if it’s not organic, so that’s another thing that people may have concerns about. I don’t like to be a total fear monger, but if you have the option of avoiding pesticides, I think it’s a good idea.  I feel like I forgot your question.

Kelsey: I forgot my question, too. Oh, I was talking about how they make these.

Laura: I do think that that question is answered by if they’re advertising it as cold pressed or expeller pressed I think.

Kelsey: That makes sense.

Laura: I have to look up what expeller pressed means.

Kelsey: At least cold pressed would be generally less processed.

Laura: Cold pressed is like the way they make olive oil, especially virgin olive oil. They make coconut oil like that as well. I can get a link to describe what the difference is. But basically a raw cold pressed, they’re still going to use some level of mechanical pressing, but they don’t get any heat there because basically anytime you’re doing a mechanical grinding of an item, you can create heat because of the friction.

I believe the cold press is like the first pressing where basically they don’t use any friction that would lead to heating of the oil. Whereas if it’s just expeller pressed, there’s a pretty high amount of pressure and so that pressure and friction and that kind of thing can cause some heat.

I would say with the high oleic oils, that’s probably not that big of a deal because again it is a high monounsaturated fat so the heat is not going to damage it as much as it would be if it was a normal polyunsaturated fat. But hypothetically if you’re really trying to avoid damaged oils, then doing a cold pressed oil is going to be better than expeller pressed, which is still better than the chemical processing that a lot of these other vegetable oils go through.

It’s kind of like a spectrum. Organic cold pressed, high oleic sunflower oil would be an example of an oil that probably is fine to have as oil in your diet. But if you’re doing like non-organic, non-high oleic and chemically processed vegetable oils, which is honestly the way most Americans are eating these oils, that stuff has probably already got some damage to it by the time you’re actually eating it.

That’s kind of like a very basic overview of the different variations that this person asked about. And it’s funny because I think something like coconut oil people are very weird about it needing to be virgin, cold pressed coconut oil versus it being expeller pressed. I think the expeller pressing or the refining of the coconut oil is really just taking out some of the flavor. So it’s not like it’s causing hardcore damage to the coconut oil.

I just wanted to add that little tidbit in because I think sometimes a lot of people don’t like coconut oil from a flavor perspective. I’m kind of like that. It depends on the meal, but a lot of times I don’t like cooking with coconut oil because it just makes it taste like sunscreen. But if you use like a refined coconut oil for a recipe, it generally doesn’t have any flavor. Which again, I don’t even use a lot of that, but it is something that can help you use coconut oil as a cooking oil without it totally changing the flavor of your food. So just something to think about.

But anyway, I think just understanding the different processes that these oils go through whether or not they’re using chemical processes, or if they’re just doing a heat intensive pressing, or if it’s cold pressed or whatever, the main thing I want to think about when I think about foods we should be eating versus avoiding is first of all, is it actually that bad for you?

Something like high oleic oil is not going to be as bad for you as high omega 6 oil. Maybe it’s not that big of a deal to have some of it. But the other way I like to think about it is why do we need these oils at all? Is there any reason that these oils are not replaceable with something that’s a little bit more natural, something that would have been in our diets before genetic modification and industrial processing was an option?

So again, I’m not saying you should never touch it or that it’s horrible for you. But I’m also thinking do we really need them? Is this something that you can’t use a different oil to get the same benefit from?

Now just as a little detour, I do want to make sure people understand that we do actually have need for some omega 6 fat in our diet. We have some basic fatty acid requirements. A small amount of omega 6 and omega 3 fats can qualify for that. But it’s not like you can 100 percent avoid those foods and be healthy because our bodies can’t create these foods on our own. So we do actually have to have some level of dietary omega 6 fat intake to actually have a normally functioning body. But honestly, if you’re eating a whole foods diet, there’s no way you can actually avoid these fats.

Kelsey: I don’t even think it’s possible that you would be able to do that.

Laura: Yeah, I mean you’d probably have to be on like a really low fat diet and maybe you’re only using coconut oil to cook with or something like that. Honestly, that is not totally outside the realm of possibility if you think about like people who are doing really restrictive Paleo type diets like the original chicken…actually no, if you eat chicken you’re getting omega 6 fats.

Kelsey: Right. You’d have to be like vegan only using coconut oil or something.

Laura: Yeah. It would probably be pretty hard because then you also would not be eating nuts or seeds.  Realistically getting zero grams of omega 6 fat in our diet is probably not going to happen. I think the only time that that really happens in the real world is if somebody is on either a tube feed or TPN, so total parenteral nutrition in a hospital basically they’re getting like an I.V. of nutrition. And so when you have those formulas that somebody might be getting, which honestly for a tube feed, they’re usually using vegetable oil anyway. So honestly the TPN is probably the main place where an omega 6 deficiency might come in.

But long story short, we need some in our diet for good health and most foods have some. A lot of foods have some I should say, maybe not most, but anything that’s got fat in it is probably going to have at least a little bit of omega 6 fat in it and that even includes some of the animal products that we eat.

One especially important type of omega 6 fat is called arachidonic acid. That one is found in many animal products like liver, egg yolks, poultry skin, butter, meat fat. Anything that’s a fat from an animal is going to have some arachidonic acid in it.

There is some theory…when I was doing some research on this topic looking into arachidonic acid, there are some websites out there that say arachidonic acid is inflammatory, and that it’s bad for you, and that you should avoid it for all costs. I feel like that’s totally misunderstanding the purpose of arachidonic acid because yes, our bodies do use arachidonic acid to initiate inflammation. Which that makes it sound like it’s an inflammatory fat, but being able to initiate the inflammatory process is actually an essential function of our immune system especially when it’s fighting off pathogens.

So if we can’t initiate inflammation, we’re in big trouble. We would probably die from infection before anything else. When we’re thinking about inflammation, we have to remember that some inflammation is good. I’ll put a link to this in the notes, but the person who asked this question was mentioning that she had read the article I wrote about inflammation and why we do need some of it. So just understanding that inflammation is not totally bad and we want some inflammation, we just want controlled inflammation.

Arachidonic acid is one of those polyunsaturated fats that not only initiates the inflammatory response, but it also actually allows the body to turn off inflammation once it’s run its course and it’s no longer necessary. So essentially let’s say we get an infection, we need to mount an inflammatory response to get rid of that infection. Once the infection is gone, our body can then resolve that inflammation. Arachidonic acid is involved in both the initiation and resolution process. If we were 100 percent avoiding omega 6 fats and arachidonic acid, we would actually be in a lot of trouble.

Arachidonic acid is actually also used to make things like our cell to cell junctions that form physical barriers which helps protect us against toxins and pathogens, especially in our gut. That’s something that could actually benefit leaky gut rather than cause it, which is something that I saw again when I was researching for this question. I saw some blog articles on there saying that our arachidonic acid consumption would actually cause leaky gut, which I don’t think that’s accurate. I mean certainly if you were eating tons of it, maybe that’s possible. But I think in a normal whole foods diet arachiodonic acid from animal products shouldn’t lead to leaky gut.

Kelsey: Right. They’re probably referring it to in the case of a standard American diet type of deal I would think.

Laura: Well, actually a lot of the blogs I saw were more talking about it as a reason we shouldn’t eat animal products.

Kelsey: Interesting.

Laura: They were like kind of vegan friendly.

Kelsey: I see.

Laura: I think just making sure people understand that there are some omega 6 fats that do play a really important role in our immune system.

Something else that’s really interesting that I was talking to Chris Masterjohn about at the conference last weekend that I was at, we were talking about the gut immune system and how your gut immunity is actually figuring out whether or not your body should have an immune response to the food proteins that you eat.

Our bodies have to learn tolerance of any food that we’re eating and if we don’t have any arachidonic acid, we actually can’t have that learned tolerance to food and or gut immunity. That’s really important because a lot of people that deal with food intolerances think that avoiding the food is the only thing that is important in that situation. There’s actually a lot of nutrients that help our body learn that tolerance for foods compared to just the kind of standard intolerance that it has.

That’s again kind of another rabbit hole that I’m not going to go down. But it’s one of these things where there’s a lot of foods that maybe you think are bad for you because it’s an inflammatory thing, but our bodies use these processes for its immune response in a normal way, and so we don’t want to be 100 percent avoiding them.

When we look at the research of traditional cultures, we’re seeing that most of the cultures that were free from things like heart disease, and chronic illness, that kind of thing, they generally had about 2 percent of their total fat intake from polyunsaturated fats or PUFAs, and that includes both omega 6 and omega 3 fats. Now that doesn’t cover all traditional cultures. It’s just a large majority of the ones that were studied that didn’t have these chronic diseases.

We could also look at cultures like the Inuit have diets much higher in PUFAs, especially omega 3 fats. The only problem there is that in the Inuit and these cultures that eat really high omega 6 and omega 3 diets, I should say really omega 3 is where we’re seeing these issues, but these cultures actually have genetic variations that allow them to have a higher tolerance for a high PUFA diet. There’s some research that I can put into the notes as well about that.

But basically these cultures that eat a ton of fish, like fatty fish is their protein source, they can tolerate these omega 3 levels because of a genetic difference. The research I was looking at showed that the Inuit population, like 100 percent of them had this genetic variation that allowed them to tolerate high omega 3 intake, whereas the white population that they were comparing them to maybe less than 10 percent had the genetic variation.

This is definitely another article or blog post that we could talk about. I do talk about this in my inflammation article. But basically high omega 3 intake is not great for us either in general. I don’t want people to think that they should be totally avoiding omega 6 fats and eating tons of omega 3 fats because really total PUFA intake should probably be around 2 to 5 percent of calories. And again, that’s the combination of both omega 3 and omega 6. That if we were looking at a 2000 calorie per day diet would be about 11 grams total of polyunsaturated fat. Now again, if you get a little bit more than that, it’s not that big of a deal because some foods are pretty high in PUFAs.

For example, if you wanted to get 11 grams of total polyunsaturated fat, if you ate an ounce of walnuts which are a pretty high PUFA nut, that would be your polyunsaturated fat for the day that would give you five percent of your calories on a 2000 calorie diet.

Obviously if you’re eating some higher PUFA foods, you’re going to have a couple of these that are higher. But we’re looking at foods that do contain some level of omega 6 and omega 3 fats but they’re not crazy high in them, then you can get a normal amount of PUFAs from a reasonable quantity of food.

So for example, 5 ounces of salmon plus 2 ounces of almonds would be about close to 11 grams of polyunsaturated fat, which 2 ounces of almonds has a decent amount and 5 ounces of salmon is a pretty good amount, too.

I think generally if you’re just eating whole foods, and eating some omega 3 rich foods a couple of times a week, and eating some nuts and seeds maybe an ounce or two a day, you shouldn’t be getting a ton more polyunsaturated fat in your diet than about 5 percent of calories.

We have to also think about what our culture and what our medical culture in this country is promoting and how that affects our food supply. We can compare this 2 to 5 percent range to the American Heart Association recommendation which is that we should get 8 to 10 percent of our daily calories from polyunsaturated fat as a minimum.

Kelsey: Wow.

Laura: They actually say that up to 15 percent could be healthy so it’s at least double if not triple the amount of polyunsaturated fat. If we’re just looking at 10 percent, it would be about 22 grams of polyunsaturated fat total on a 2000 calorie diet. If it was 15 percent, it would be close to 30 grams.

Kelsey: You basically have to eat some kind of like industrial oil that get to that.

Laura: Yeah, essentially, I mean unless you were just eating tons of fish everyday.

Kelsey: For every meal.

Laura: Right. You would be needing to use a high PUFA oil in that situation. The AHA says that they have evidence that this improves cardiovascular health, but from what I’ve seen in terms of general reviews of the evidence, people have done blog posts on this kind of thing, the evidence is mixed at best.  If we were giving them the benefit of the doubt, we could say there’s some evidence that higher polyunsaturated fat intake could be helpful, but there’s also studies that show that it’s harmful.

Ultimately I don’t think there’s any evidence that is helpful and to force yourself to a higher level of polyunsaturated fat intake using industrial seed oils is probably not a good idea. It probably could cause some issue with cardiovascular disease, and inflammation and excessive free radicals.

Kelsey: Right. In a case like that probably because there’s mixed evidence essentially, probably best to refer back to our ancestors and traditional cultures and look at those levels, which as you said the AHA levels are double if not triple those levels. It makes me a little nervous.

Laura: Right. They’re at least triple because a lot of those cultures were getting 2 percent. Even if you’re going up to 8 percent, which is the minimum guideline, that’s 4 times the amount.

The difference between our diets and a lot of these traditional diets, or one of the primary differences I should say is just the number of options we have. A lot of these traditional diets, they didn’t have like mixed nuts they could just go to the grocery and buy. If you think about how much energy and effort it takes to get nuts into your diet, it’s just like you would never be able to eat several ounces of nuts a day realistically. Compare that to our diets where we can go to the grocery store and get a ton of salmon, and almonds, and walnuts, and that kind of stuff all at once and have a lot of PUFA in our diet.

Also we have to think about the fact that their calorie expenditure is probably a lot higher in these traditional cultures. They might have been eating like 4000 calories a day and so 2 percent of their diet might have been 15 to 20 grams of PUFA.

There’s a lot of variables. I don’t want people to think that like if you have an ounce of walnuts, you’re going to overdo your PUFAs for the day. It’s all relative and really the point is just to say that you can get a good amount of normal polyunsaturated fat intake with some higher PUFA containing whole foods and you don’t have to worry about getting extra in your oils.

Something else we have to remember about PUFAs is that we need vitamin E in order to protect the PUFAs in our diet from oxidative damage. A lot of foods that are rich in PUFAs actually have a lot of Vitamin E in them. Something like walnuts for example are a good source of vitamin E. Almonds, any nuts and seeds are going to have some vitamin E in them. Vitamin E is an antioxidant and it’s found in many of these PUFA rich foods.

But the question is how much of that vitamin E actually makes it through the processing of the super rich oils? Because Vitamin E is somewhat easily damaged and so a lot of these PUFA rich oils, maybe not canola oil which does tend to be a little higher in vitamin E, but some of the ones like soybean oil, corn oil, that kind of thing that don’t have any vitamin E in them, there’s nothing protecting the omega 6 fats from that oxidative damage.

I would say that we want to make sure that we’re getting a good amount of Vitamin E in our diet to help protect against any sort of oxidative damage that comes from these PUFAs both in the oils themselves as well as the oxidative damage that might happen in our bodies since Vitamin E is a really potent and important antioxidant in our general antioxidant system. That’s another reason that the foods that have these omega 6s in them are going to be better for us than the oils because we have a lot of these foods containing vitamin E as well.

Now just to kind of like play my own devil’s advocate here, I do want to make the point that occasionally having even some of these like crappy industrial PUFAs oils in your diet is not the end of the world. I know a lot of people, like they won’t eat at Whole Foods hot bar for example because the food has been cooked in canola oil for example.

I’m not suggesting that you should buy crappy vegetable or canola to cook with at home, but if you want to eat out ever anywhere unless it’s like this super advanced restaurant that’s cooking with butter, and lard, and coconut, all that kind of thing, you’re going to get exposed to these oils. I would say it’s really not worth being socially isolated simply to avoid ever consuming these oils.

Some of you listening might think that’s ridiculous to say, but I’ve seen this in people that I’ve worked with that they won’t eat out because they’re afraid that they’re going to eat some of these oils. Listen, I understand if you don’t want to be eating deep fried food at a cheap restaurant or going to McDonald’s and getting French fries, I totally understand. You don’t have to do that to enjoy yourself and to have a social life. But generally if you’re eating out, you’re going to get exposed to it. The concept of 100 percent avoiding it at this point in our food supply situation, it’s just not going to happen.

I would never tell someone that they should 100 percent avoid it because I don’t think that’s reasonably possible. But there are a few practices that we can use or strategies that we can use for avoiding omega 6 oils. especially the industrial process omega 6 oils and only getting those omega 6 fats from food sources like nuts, and seeds, eggs, chicken, that kind of thing.

The first would be pretty obvious and that’s just to cook with monounsaturated fats or saturated fats at home. Personally I usually use a combination of butter, olive oil, and avocado oil depending on what the dish is. I’ll use coconut oil on occasion if it’s like Thai food or Indian food, that kind of thing. But a lot of times it’s avocado oil if I don’t want any flavor to get into the food that I’m cooking, or I’ll use olive oil if I’m doing like an Italian, or European, or Mediterranean type of dish. I’ll use butter if it’s just like a food that doesn’t really need to have a specific flavor.

Kelsey: That’s exactly what I do, too. I’m with you on the coconut oil thing, too. Not my favorite. It doesn’t do it for me. But yeah, those are the three that I tend to have stocked at home. Between the three of them, I mean I have no trouble making everything that I want to.

Laura: I would say for things like salad dressings or any dishes that call for a liquid oil that doesn’t have a lot of flavor, olive oil is an easy one to put in salad dressing. A lot of times that works well. Avocado oil honestly does not have much flavor at all so I usually use that if I need something that’s flavorless.

I had mentioned before that the cold pressed or expeller pressed high oleic sunflower oil is probably another good option there. I’m not totally sure in which situation that you wouldn’t be able to use avocado oil in place of that, but there may be some recipes that it’s not really a good substitution and so having some high oleic sunflower oil in your pantry as an option there might make sense for you depending on what kind of recipes you’re using. I personally don’t have any, so I’m not really sure what recipes….

Kelsey: I’m only thinking this because I was recently talking about this with my sister because we were talking about Thanksgiving and what we want to make. We were thinking about doing a carrot cake and a lot of the carrot cake recipes call for a liquid oil. We’ve tried to do it with just like melted butter and it doesn’t do it. I’m kind of thinking I’m not sure avocado oil would work in that particular situation, but maybe that high oleic sunflower oil might not be a bad choice.

Laura: Yeah, it’s one of those things where if you’re using a recipe and you need to replace a vegetable oil, the high oleic sunflower oil is probably a good option. Again, I’m not a chef and I really don’t use recipes very often so I’m not totally sure, but it’s totally reasonable to think that that would be a time where having a sunflower oil would be helpful.

Again, I had said before it’s not a bad oil to use especially if you’re not using it at super high heat. How often are you really using it? If you’re only using it a couple of times a month, you’re probably fine whereas if you’re using it every day, that might be a problem.

Another way to minimize excessive omega 6 oils is to not have tons of nuts and seeds, so limit your consumption of those nuts and seeds to a couple ounces a day. Most people don’t need to eat a ton of nuts and seeds for good health.

I know we’ve talked about this before that when we went Paleo we were both over-consuming nuts and seeds. It’s probably really common in the Paleo newbies. But I think that’s one of those things that most people don’t need and probably don’t benefit from, so keeping the nut and seed consumption to just a couple ounces a day at most. I personally don’t even eat nuts and seeds any more. I occasionally do, but it’s not really something I’m eating a lot of.

If you’re going to get nuts, then make sure they’re dry roasted rather than oil roasted, or of course you can do raw nuts as well. But if you get oil roasted, they’re generally going to have some of those omega 6 industrial seed oils on them. I’ve even seen cottonseed oil on nuts before, which is kind of gross.

When you’re eating out, try to avoid deep fried foods, so things like corn chips, fried chicken, fried fish, donuts, anything that’s like dipped in oil basically to cook it. And again, I don’t totally avoid corn chips. I get corn tacos or like corn hard shell tacos when I’m out at a Mexican restaurant, that kind of thing. That’s going to be one of those eat at the frequency of which supports your health. For some people that might be never. For some people having it once a week might be fine. I just wouldn’t be eating them all the time or having them in the house very often.

That comes my next recommendation, which is to eat out only a couple of times a week if possible, maybe even less. I know for us… well I shouldn’t say this because I feel like I’m eating out more often recently because I’ve been so busy. But generally we try to eat out no more than two times, two meals a week I should say. Generally we have like one date night meal and then maybe we do something like some kind of takeout or something like that if it’s a night that we didn’t have time to cook.

There’s people that eat out like seven times a week or fourteen times a week, that kind of thing, and they’re going to have a lot more exposure to omega 6 oils. If you’re not eating out that often, when you do eat out having some corn chips is probably not a big deal.

Kelsey: There’s a lot of people that when I work with people who live in New York City and kind of have like these high profile jobs that they’re eating out so much basically for every meal. They don’t even use their kitchen at home essentially. And for those people, then we’re thinking a lot more about their exposure to industrial seed oils.

But I, like you, we tend to eat out like twice a week, three times a week max. I think that’s fairly reasonable for us and our health goals and everything.

Laura: Right. And again, if you’re eating out more frequently, it’s not the end of the world. You just have to be a little bit more conscious of the foods that you’re choosing because if you’re eating fried stuff all the time when you’re eating out, that’s going to be a lot worse than if you have it even a couple of times a month, once a week, that kind of thing.

What can help is if you’re sticking to things like baked foods, steamed foods, broiled foods when you’re eating out. Like for example, I mentioned Chipotle as a place that sometimes we’ll go get Chipotle because we don’t feel like cooking. It’s an easy, cheap option that generally is not that bad.

If I wanted to get a tortilla, and the chips, and some of the meats are a little bit higher heat cooked, that kind of thing, you’re going to have some more of these potentially omega 6 oils or rancid oils because they might be frying things, they may be cooking things in oil. Whereas I usually go for the barbacoa at Chipotle which I’m pretty sure is like a slow cooked, like wet prep method for meat. And I’ll get like a burrito bowl which they have the beans, and the rice, and the veggies, and all that. But as far as I’m aware, there’s really no time where any of that food gets fried.

If you have to eat out, you might want to try sticking to foods that aren’t fried, that aren’t sautéed in oil and you’re just sticking to something that’s like I said with the barbacoa meat that’s probably slow cooked in general. There might be some oil added to it, but I would be surprised since most beef has enough fat in itself to get fat that you need. So that’s one strategy. And that can go for things like seafood restaurants where they give you the option of frying or broiling scallops or something like that, then choosing the non-fried option is going to be better.

And then just generally minimizing the use of processed and packaged foods is going to be helpful.  I feel like most of our listeners probably already know this, but the more shelf stable something is, unless it’s like an epic bar or something like that that’s made out of meat or a lot of these nuts and seeds bars, they’re fine, it’s just that they shouldn’t be sitting on the shelf in your pantry for like years and then eat them later.

We want to keep our use of processed and packaged foods minimized. Obviously having these packaged snacks is necessary for a lot of people, but I wouldn’t make like a large proportion of your calories from that. Trying to eat freshly cooked food as often as possible is always going to be better than something that’s shelf stable. So just minimizing any sort of like processed and packaged chips, or cereals, or just things that are just generally using ingredients that are processed in a way that helps them maintain their shelf life, not really something we want to be eating a lot of.

Again, I feel like I’m preaching to the choir with a lot of these recommendations. But if you can do all of that and then once or twice a week you eat out, or maybe you go to a restaurant once a week and then you get Whole Foods hot bar with canola oil once or twice a week, it’s really not that big of a deal and it’s not worth panicking about.

The cool thing is I’ve seen at least at our Whole Foods, they do have some of their foods that are cooked in olive oil and they’re usually like a Paleo version of something. I know that they’re actually getting the message that people want the olive oil or hey want a non-high PUFA oil as part of the cooking options with the hot bar.

Kelsey: That’s good.

Laura: But until that becomes a thing that Whole Foods does, it’s not that big of a deal. I just want to make sure people aren’t freaking out about like I said getting a little bit of canola oil or something in a Whole Foods meal because in the grand scheme of things, it’s not the end of the world. It’s not going to kill you. It’s not toxic in the sense that any amount is like a poisonous amount. It might be toxic in the way that water is toxic if you have too much of it or sugar is probably something you don’t want to be having a ton of either. But in small reasonable quantities, I would not call omega 6 oils toxic.

Laura: I think you brought up a really good thing before about that at least at this point it’s practically impossible to not be exposed to them if you’re doing any amount of eating out. Like you said, it’s not worth socially isolating yourself.

I think the reason maybe you feel like you’re preaching a little bit to the choir here is because all of this is fairly common sense, yet a lot of people are really fearful of consuming too much of these oils. But if you’re doing all of these strategies that Laura just mentioned, you’re not getting too much of it. You’re getting a normal amount that is just kind of impossible to not get if you’re living a somewhat normal life. And in the scheme of things, it’s not a huge deal.

Laura: That episode was way longer than I was expecting.

Kelsey: It’s a lot to talk about.

Laura: Sorry. I apologize guys. I feel like, again, this topic could be a multi-page blog post.

Kelsey: Yeah, it probably could.

Laura: It could probably be a book, honestly, to be fair. I just wanted to give my two cents on it and I would imagine, Kelsey, you’re on the same page with a lot of what I said. Again just want people to be taking everything into context and realizing that, okay, maybe you don’t purchase the food to have in your pantry and you don’t cook with it at home, but when you’re out once in a while, not the end of the world if you had some extra omega 6 fats in your food.

Hopefully that helps answer the question. We appreciate you following along. Next we have some updates.


Kelsey: Laura, you were at the Weston A. Price Conference recently and I know that was a big thing for you. You had a full day seminar that you did so I want to ask you and see how that went.

Laura: Yeah. Well it was definitely kind of a big step into public speaking. I had done this seminar last year in like a small group setting. Maybe there was like 30 people in the room and I was sitting while I was doing it. It was kind of open for questions every section, so I had kind of a less structured time to be spending with people and got a chance to find out what they wanted to learn, that kind of thing.

Whereas this year I was on a stage and there was probably, I don’t know, several dozen people in the audience. I don’t know exactly how many because I feel like I was too nervous to really like pay attention to how many people were listening to me.

Kelsey: Yeah, like I don’t want to know.

Laura: I’m like let me just pretend like I’m up here talking to nobody or talking podcast mic. I had a 6 hour total time block which was like 10 to 12, and then 1:30 to 3, and then 3:30 to 5.

Kelsey: That’s pretty crazy.

Laura: Was it 6 or was it 5. Maybe it was 5 hours. Well anyway, I kept saying it was 6 hours. Well to be fair, people came up to me and asked me questions during the break, so I will say that I talked for 6 hours.

Kelsey: Fair.

Laura: It was really good. I thought it was going to be a lot harder than I was expecting. No, that doesn’t make sense. I thought it was going to be harder than I experienced, not that I was expecting because that doesn’t make any sense. I was definitely nervous going into it. I didn’t sleep very well the night before because I was amped up. I kept telling myself that it didn’t really matter if I bombed it. I know that’s kind of terrible to say, but really I mean if I if I totally screwed up, the worst thing that was going to happen is that people just like left and went to see a different talk. I was kind of using that as a reason to not be that panicky about it, which actually I think helped just reminding myself that it didn’t matter if I screwed up. It didn’t affect my self-worth or my career or anything like that.

Kelsey: Right.

Laura: But the other thing that was kind of cool is that I just feel like we’ve been talking about these topics for so long that it started to really just be stuff that I knew what I was going to say about different things. The topic was called “Stress Proof “and it was basically just going through a lot of what we cover in our adrenal fatigue program. I’d say more of what we cover in module 1 than anything else because a lot of the talk was…at least the first half of the day was really focused on like busting the myth of adrenal fatigue, explaining why that term isn’t really accurate, explaining how the original three stage model isn’t really the way things work, and how we can have so many different types of cortisol patterns, and how even a saliva is not enough to see what’s actually happening at a deeper level. That was like the first two hours.

And then the second part of the afternoon, like basically after lunch I was really talking more about the practical things that impact our body’s stress response. I covered some of the stuff that this guy Dr. Thomas Guilliams covers in his book that I have on the HPA axis. He talks about the four different types of stress. I covered the different areas that our body can experience stress from and the diet and lifestyle factors that impact that.

Definitely a pretty comprehensive overview, but…I didn’t rush through it, I think I just scratched the surface of a bunch of different things and gave some amount of practical guidelines. But I definitely wasn’t able to give an actual plan the way we give in our program. I did talk a little bit about under-eating and how that can cause disruption in the HPA axis and gave some like really basic guidelines about how to figure out how much they need to eat.

I got really good feedback. I heard people liked it a lot. I was proud of myself for getting through it and feeling like I actually did a good job and that it wasn’t as scary as I thought it was going to be. I feel a little bit more capable of doing public speaking or seminars in the future. Not that I have any plans for that, but that could always be something I add to my repertoire of business activities. I think it just went better than I was expecting.

And then it was nice because I had the talk on Friday, and it was the whole day on Friday basically. And then basically from Friday afternoon on I could just enjoy myself which was really nice because last year I was talking on Monday, so I was still a little bit like anxious the whole weekend.

Kelsey: Right.

Laura: I think it went well. I’ll see if they invite me back for next year. Maybe they’ll want me to do a different topic or something like that, but I did enjoy it more than I thought I would and it went better than I thought it would. I’m kind of just glad that it’s over now because I was feeling very, I don’t know, just anticipatory stress leading up to the weekend. And then the weekend itself was kind of intense. I just I didn’t sleep very well when I was there, and stayed up kind of later than I would usually, and got up a little earlier, and there was jet lag. Just travel in general can be stressful. I got home from that and was just like half dead for a couple of days.

Kelsey: Right, like I’m done.

Laura: Yeah. I’m still recovering because it was only a little over a week ago. I actually got home a week ago today. I’m just glad Thanksgiving is coming up because I’m like I need a break!

Kelsey: Yeah, you need a break.

Laura: Anyway, if anyone’s listening that was there, I would love to hear your feedback about it if you liked it, if you thought there was anything I could improve on. Obviously constructive criticism is always helpful. I do think if you say it in a nice way, it can actually help me get better at what I’m doing as opposed to the people who are like I hate your voice, I can’t listen to you. Whereas other people will say if you don’t use filler words as often, like the word “like”, or “I think”, that kind of thing, you would be more credible, which is a totally applicable recommendation.  I would love to hear feedback if you were there, if you liked it, if you think I should do it again or anything like that.

But yeah, I’m just kind of glad I did it, glad it went well, and glad it’s over.

Kelsey: Yeah, I bet. It’s pretty interesting that they do like these daylong seminar type things because for every other conference that I’ve been to, it tends to be like one-ish hour for each presentation. I imagine these seminars are, first of all a lot more work goes into that to put a presentation together for you and I mean that’s just a whole different ballgame from a public speaking perspective. That just takes like a lot of stamina, and energy, and focus. Most people can probably get through a one hour talk fairly easily even though it terrifies a lot of people, but to do five or six hours of that in a row is pretty incredible. So yeah, you should be very proud of that.

Laura: The nice thing about the prep is that I did it last year. I only spent a couple of hours updating it and just mentally preparing for it. But there was like 160 or something slides in the presentation. It was pretty full and it did take several long hours to get the original presentation put together. Most of the conference was shorter presentations, but the first day there was a couple of longer seminars.

A topic like stress, honestly, like I said, I barely scratched the surface of the different things that I covered. It was more like just an overview.

Kelsey: Right, it’s huge.

Laura: You could do a whole weekend on it and you would probably never get through all of the information.

Kelsey: Very true.

Laura: Anyway, I’m glad I did it. Maybe they’ll have me do it again next year and then I can just rinse and repeat or I’ll come up with a new topic. But I feel more capable of doing the public speaking now than I did before.

It was funny so I was talking to my trainer about this. I feel like one of the reasons that public speaking was so terrifying to me before is because when you do public speaking in like middle school, or high school, or even college or grad school, a lot of times they’re giving you topics that you’re learning and presenting on within a couple of weeks. It’s not something that you’re talking about day in and day out for three years before you give the presentation. When you go into something not having a ton of expertise in the topic, then yeah, you’re going to kind of feel freaked out and somewhat nervous because you’re worried you’re going to be wrong, or not know what you’re talking about, or forget what you’re supposed to say.

Whereas going into this situation, I was like even if I don’t remember what I was supposed to say on that slide, I can make something up that is pretty close and is something I might have said in the past.  I say make something up, I’m not lying.

Kelsey: You’re talking on the spot.

Laura: Right, exactly. Coming up with something to say that wasn’t maybe exactly what I had intended, but it still works. It just felt a lot less challenging because I already kind of knew, oh, this topic? I talked about this two days ago with a client, and like I could use client stories, I could use my own stories, that kind of thing. It worked a lot better.

Just something to think about if people are afraid of public speaking. You might be surprised it’s not as hard if you actually know the topic pretty well. Just something to think about if anyone is like I want to do speaking about X Y Z.  If you’re a nutritionist and you want to do some public talks, I think if you’re doing it on a topic you’re comfortable with, you may be surprised it’s not as hard as you think.

Kelsey: Yeah. I actually did a couple talks. I think it was last year. Yeah, last year. And I actually really liked it. I would like that to be a bigger part of what I do. I found it kind of fun. Once you get over that initial freaked out piece of it, it’s like oh yeah, I know what I’m talking about.  I can do this, this is not that bad.

Laura: Definitely. Anyway, I was glad to be there and maybe I’ll be at the next one. I feel like the Weston Price Conference was less scary than doing like AHS or something like that because people aren’t going to grill you about things. But who knows? Maybe I’ll go to one of those conferences in the future.

But I was hoping to do a quick update and so I will stop talking. It was a longer episode than we were expecting. But hopefully it was enjoyable for you all.

Like I said in the beginning of the podcast, if you want to get these updated episodes as they are published, then you should subscribe to us on iTunes. We also have an email list that goes out to people that are subscribed. You can go to TheAncestralRDs.com to get signed up for that. But otherwise, we’re so glad to have you here and we will talk to you all next week.

Kelsey: Alright. Take care, Laura.

Laura: You too, Kelsey.

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I'm a women's health expert and a registered dietitian (RD) with a passion for helping goal-oriented people fuel their purpose.

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