Transformed Fatty Acids

By: Ron Lagerquist

“A trans-fatty acid cannot correctly perform the function of an essential fatty acid, thereby causing short circuits in the electrical flow responsible for heartbeat, nerve functions, cell division and mental balance.”

Transformed Fatty AcidsIn 1911, Crisco marketed the first shortening made through hydrogenation. Hydrogenation quickly became a big success because it kept oils and fats from going rancid. For the first time, manufacturers could make oil or fat that could stay on the shelf at room temperature for months. In the succeeding 90-plus years, the growing number of hydrogenated oil products has risen to make up 10% of the North American caloric intake. Hydrogenated oil is now found in donuts, muffins, cakes, salad dressing, candy, soups, breads, margarine, potato chips, fried foods, mayonnaise, cheese spreads, peanut butter and most processed foods. Even the humble raisin has been coated with a layer of hydrogenated oil.

To produce hydrogenated oil, hydrogen is bubbled through oil with a nickel catalyst at more than 1,000 degrees Fahrenheit. These high temperatures twist the molecules’ configuration. Trans-fatty acid is the short form for transformed fatty acid. The body does not recognize that these twisted fatty acid molecules are harmful and innocently utilizes them.

Simply put, essential fatty acid molecules are curved, whereas trans-fatty acids are straight. The essential fatty acid has two hydrogen atoms on the same side. These hydrogen atoms repel each other and bend the molecule. Molecules in this shape do not stick together and remain fluid-like in the blood. That’s a good thing. In the trans-fatty acid, the hydrogen atom has been forced to the other side of the molecule. The trans-fatty acid molecule straightens. Now they easily lock together, causing them to stick to cholesterol and saturated fats. That’s a bad thing. This stickiness increases fatty deposits in the arteries, liver and other organs. Platelet aggregation is increased, which in turn increases the chance of blood clotting, strokes and heart attacks.

A clue to cancer may be found by looking at the fats in the cell wall. Cell walls carry on countless biochemical transactions, each one vital to the health and function of the cell. The cell wall controls the transport of molecules in and out of the cell, including taking in nutrients and excreting waste products. Carcinogens are destructive only to the degree that they are able to penetrate the cell. Consuming trans-fatty acids pressures the body to use chemically inert fat in the cell membrane. They fit into cell membranes like broken keys, stopping the cell’s proper function. If a trans-fatty acid molecule is used in the cell wall, the protective barrier deforms and the cells start to lose their protection against cancer.

Dr. Johanna Budwig meticulously analyzed thousands of blood samples. Without exception, the cancer patients, diabetic patients, and those with precancerous conditions of the liver were deficient in one of the essential fatty acids. Dr. Budwig observed that, with a change in diet, tumors actually dissolve. Her miraculous cures in terminal cancer patients are based on removing all toxic fats from the diet and replacing them with smaller amounts of essential fatty acids. In replenishing essential fatty acids, healthy cell membranes were able to repel the penetration of carcinogens entering through the cell wall.

 A trans-fatty acid cannot correctly perform the function of an essential fatty acid, thereby causing short circuits in the electrical flow responsible for heartbeat, nerve functions, cell division and mental balance. They create free radicals that have been linked to cancer. Trans-fatty acids act like saturated fats because they increase blood cholesterol.

By now you will probably not be surprised to learn that while essential fatty acids (the good guys) are shown to help you lose weight, researchers like Lawrence L. Rudel, Ph.D., head of the Lipid Sciences Research Program, have discovered that trans-fatty acids (the bad guys) promote the most dangerous form of weight gain known as the “apple-shaped” body. Diets heavy in trans fat cause the migration of fat to the abdomen and lead to higher body weight even when one is on a controlled diet. Other research with monkeys is confirming this.

Again, a diet focused on total calorie intake and not the quality of foods eaten has it all wrong. Viewing diet from a narrow and simplistic caloric perspective insults the highly complex nature of how the human body functions. We have only begun to understand that function, especially when relating to fats in diet. What we have discovered is not at all surprising: whole, natural foods are a healthy source of good fats and processed foods are a source of damaging fats.

There is an unfair part of this story. Processed food and addiction are unholy bedfellows. We crave bad food and the worse the food is, the stronger the craving. Trans fats are addictive, whereas healthy fats are not. Avocadoes are full of good fat and with some added salsa they are delicious, yet even though I have an addictive personality, I have never found myself gorging on avocadoes. But give me a bag of Miss Vickie’s Potato Chips and I will be looking for bag two. Here is a good rule of thumb: we hunger for what is healthy and crave after what is unhealthy. Hunger can be satisfied; craving cannot. Thankfully, after a few days of replacing processed food with whole foods, the physical part of addiction diminishes. Cravings can be broken—I am living proof of that.

It has been estimated that over 200 million people have died prematurely because of the trans-fatty acids in refined oils. They are a major cause of cancer, heart disease, immune system breakdown, depression, fatigue, and other disorders. They are also highly toxic, appearing around tumors and other metabolic breakdowns. Incredibly, humankind has taken something as valuable to human health as the essential fatty acid and transformed it for profit into the deadly Hyde of fats. This is yet another strong case for eating foods in an unprocessed state.

Related Article: Good and Bad Cholesterol

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