Monthly Health Insights February 04, 2019

The Role of Fats in Inflammation and Disease

The Role of Fats and Inflammation and Disease

Does a high fat diet contribute to inflammation and disease?

Plant based diets are considered excellent for general good health and weight management.  Some also incorporate no fat into that equation.  Don’t we need some healthy fats?  I did a literature review to try to find that answer.  

There is good support in the literature for the relationship between inflammation and disease.  Alzheimer's disease (1), cardiovascular disease (2,4), diabetes (4), cancer (4), and possibly autoimmune diseases (3) all show evidence of increased inflammatory markers. Alzheimer's disease has increased TNF-alpha (an inflammatory marker) in exacerbation and cognitive decline of the disease (1). 

In the role of obesity and systemic inflammation, an increased BMI is correlated with levels of inflammatory proteins such as CRP, IL-6, Pal-1, p selectin, VCAM-1, and fibrinogen and others (2).  Losing weight decreases systemic inflammation and in turn cardiovascular risk.  

I also wanted to look at the role of fats in the diet and the relationship to autoimmune diseases as they are so prevelant today and can be debilitating. The research however did not show that a high fat “western diet” contributed to exacerbations in autoimmune disease.  However, what came out in this research article was much discussion and findings about a healthy gut and its contribution to less autoimmune disease issues. The research focuses on the fact that an unhealthy gut allows endotoxin absorption causing autoimmune disease or exacerbation (3).  You may have heard the buzzwords a healthy gut means a healthy body….well its true! It means probiotics, exercise, and a healthy diet. 

A review in the literature published in Genes and Nutrition looked at studies done from 2010 to 2016.  It was expected that increased dietary fat in overweight and obese individuals would show increased inflammatory markers but it did not.  However, its noteworthy that the fat being animal based or plant based was not always differentiated.  In those studies where more plant based where incorporated there were decreased inflammatory markers but the researchers said more specific research needed to be done delineating the two. 

In conclusion then, there is definitely a relationship cardiovascular disease diabetes, cancer, and Alzheimers.  There is a possible relationship with autoimmune disease but present research speaks more to the leaky gut as a causal factor.  

Its my personal feeling after researching not just this area in relation to fats and disease that if we consume fats they should be very limited and plant based.  I intend to further my own research focusing on joint inflammation especially and fats because it can have a big impact on the ability to exercise sand maintain a healthy weight.  I do consume a vegan omega 3 (made of algae) as it helps with heart and brain health as well as inflammation.  I consume minimal fat using virgin olive oil, avocado, and small amounts of coconut oil. Nuts have oil and I do use those pretty often.  If you are focusing on active weight loss, I recommend little to NO oil.  Its calorie dense and sure doesn’t help.  However, once you reach your weight goal adding in some heaslthy plant based fat in my opinion is not harmful to overall health and weight.  The key is how much you are consuming!

As always, happy healthy plant based journey to …..

Heal Thy Self……Healthyself

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