Fatty Acids

As Bruce Lipton states about the function of RNA and DNA, they are the gonads of our cellular system. All they do is reproduce. The true brain of our cells, the true intelligence center according to Lipton, is the cell mem-brane (brain).

Author of “The Biology of Belief”

Why focus on fats!

Over the last few decades we have been fed a lot of misinformation about fats in our diet. We were lead to believe that all “fats” would kill us by giving us clogging our arteries to give us heart disease, cause cancer and more. Nothing could be further from the truth. The distinction between good fats and bad fats has until recently been blurred. Good fats in the diet are some of the most protective molecules in our body. It is the bad fats that are harmful to us. Our first line of defense in any disease process is the proper functioning of the cell membrane and how well it functions depends not only on the fats that we eat but also on the fats that are manufactured in the body, both healthy ones and problematic ones that are manufactured by viruses or in other disease processes. Half of every cell membrane is fats and without healthy or good ones in the membrane and/or too many bad ones, any illness/disease is possible.

There is also a lot of confusion about the word fat itself. Body fat, which is of much concern to many of us in our culture, is very different than the fats or oils that we consume in our diet. Body fat is a storage molecule that is made from simple carbohydrates. This fat is made from sugary foods such as ice cream and cake as well as carbohydrates like pasta and potatoes. Body fat is stored in the body for future use as fuel.

Fats that are found in nuts, seeds, animal products and their oils do not get stored as fat in the body for future use, but have many other functions in the body ranging from having anti fungal, antiviral properties, to providing lubrication for all of our tissues and orifices. They are also available for immediate fuel as in an athletic event. These fats are essential for our capacity to heal, regulate hormones and fight inflammation. These good fats are stored in the cell membrane for use when needed. They create stability in the cell membrane by allowing in needed nutrients, passing out toxins, and preventing molecules such as free radicals from getting into the cell which can result in damage to RNA and DNA. Any of these dysfunctions can lead to many different disease processes.

Overview of general benefits of different oils

Anti fungal Coconut oil
Anti viral Sunflower, safflower, sesame, coconut oils
Fuel Coconut oil, other oils
Initiate healing process Arachidonic acid, (beef, eggs, butter, shrimp, cream)
Regulate hormones Evening primrose oil, flax oil
Fight inflammation Evening primrose oil, sunflower, safflower, sesame oils

*It is important to note that all of the benefits above overlap into all of the different categories. This is a very basic conceptual overview.

These good fats or, fatty acids that have a slightly more scientific name for them, are also known as lipids. The cell membrane is often referred to as a bilipid membrane. In other words the lipids line themselves up in two layers in order to create a barrier that controls what goes through the membrane. Each of these lipids has an end that is water soluble and one end that is fat soluble, in other words water loving (hydrophilic) and fat loving (hydrophobic or water fearing). It is this bilipid chemical property that creates the membrane. The fat end of the lipid as we have now observed, repels water and the acid or water-soluble end repels fat. Water and oil do not mix. The water/acid end (hydrophilic) of the lipid, or the tail is attracted to another tail. On both the outside edge and the inside edge of the membrane are the fat-soluble molecules (hydrophobic). The fat side of the membrane repels water; therefore the water on the inside of the cell stays inside and the water on the outside stays outside. In a healthy membrane these fat-soluble molecules create a barrier that water cannot penetrate without help.

The water or acid end of the lipid is created through a carbon chain also known as the tail. The number of double bonds, where they are located and the length of the chain determine how the fatty acid functions. These carbon chains fit together similar to puzzle pieces. What makes them different from a puzzle is that they are constantly moving around like water molecules in an ocean. If the chains are not good fats, the ones that we need to stay healthy and have a healthy membrane, or are unhealthy fats like the ones that are found in trans fats, or are manufactured by viruses or other sources, they will disrupt the important structural function of the membrane itself. One consequence of having unhealthy fats in the membrane is that the membrane becomes fragile and can leak out much needed nutrient from the inside of the cell or it can let toxins into the cell.

Not only do fats or fatty acids have a unique role to play in the structure of every cell membrane in the body, they also have unique roles in communication on the cellular level that impacts how we heal, experience pain, fight inflammation, regulate hormones as well as how we experience our emotions, our sense of self and much more. For instance, when an injury occurs, there is a chemical response that will cause the release of some of the fats in the membrane in order to signal a healing response. It is known as the inflammatory cascade. It is essential for this to happen initially. This results in an immune system response to create inflammation in order signal white blood cells known as macrophages for one) to start to clean up the injury site. Without this, we cannot heal.

If these mechanisms get out of control as can be seen in illnesses like diabetes or the fats are not properly balanced within the cell membrane for any other reason, inflammation occurs in otherwise normally healthy tissues resulting in pain and dysfunction. This is often the case in autoimmune disorders. Drugs like NSAIDS, non-steroidal anti-inflammatory, are often used to stop the inflammation. The problem is that this stops all inflammation, even the inflammation that we need in order to send the signal that we need to heal and get rid of unhealthy tissues. An alternative to NSAIDS would be to control the inflammatory cascade. The fats stored in the cell membrane control this complex process and the influences on the membrane are many, yet manageable.

We can intervene on behalf of many patients through our understanding of fatty acids and the function of the cell membrane. We can also apply this information to healthy individuals who are interested in the prevention of disease and in aging well. It is not however as simple as telling someone who is ill to eat more fats or even the right ones. What is important in consideration of an intervention that focuses on our understanding of fats includes a deep understanding of the many influences that affect the digestion and metabolism of fats as well as how they get into the cell membrane through infective sources, like lyme disease, viruses and more as well as possible genetic influences.

The real benefit of this way of working is in the recreation of balance. Just as we recognize the need for a variety of fruits, vegetables and protein sources, a variety of good fats are optimal. It is not enough to simply supplement with flax oil or fish oil. This will inevitably result in imbalances that over time will cause dis-ease.

Omega 3s and 6s

In more technical terms, when we are speaking about the balance of fats, we are talking about the many kinds of fats that are found in the membrane. The ones that we can influence the most through our consumption of them in the ordinary diet are grouped as omega 3s and 6s. We have been lead to believe that all 3s work the same way and that all 6s work the same way. We have been told that 6s(beef) are bad and cause inflammation that 3s(flax and fish oils) are good and decrease inflammation. Again, nothing could be further from the truth. There are different 3s and different 6s. Some increase inflammation, some decrease it, but all play an important role in overall health. The misunderstanding about beef and eggs is that in the presence of high insulin, or sugar intake, the 6s that are in beef called arachidonic acid, are released from the membrane, causing inflammation in susceptible yet otherwise healthy tissues. The bad guy is sugar, not beef!

Good fats are primarily found in foods like nuts and seeds, fish as well as other meats and dairy. The most important thing to remember is that when these fats or oils are fresh they can be wonderful and healing for you. When they are rancid from improper storage like on the store shelf in clear plastic bottles, processing with heat or chemicals or they are intentionally altered as in the case of margarine, they are the poison. They must be stored in dark bottles, preferably glass and refrigerated. They are often dated with pressing date as well as expiration date. It is noteworthy that flax seed oil goes rancid once opened even in the refrigeration within weeks. With the exception of olive oil, coconut oil and butter, oils must not be heated or you will be making bad fats. If you see the oil smoking as you are cooking, you are making a bad fat.

Good fats and oils can be lifesaving and quality of life saving and may hold an important tool for a non-invasive, restorative intervention that anyone can benefit from.

 

For more information on fatty acids click below:

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