Healthy versus Unhealthy Fats
Many studies show that consuming saturated fats can lead to chronic disease while eating foods with unsaturated fats may help prevent these diseases. But many may wonder how the body responds differently to various types of fats.
Researchers from the University of New Mexico and Northwestern University explain that some fats (saturated fats) may encourage the growth of harmful bacteria in the digestive system which leads the body to launch an immune system response. This results in long-term low levels of inflammation that cause chronic disease. Joe Alcock, lead researcher of the University of New Mexico Department of Emergency Medicine and VA Medical Center adds that while the inflammatory effects of fats are well known, their influence on bacterial flora in the intestines are less appreciated.
Unsaturated fats, on the other hand, have strong antimicrobial properties which can kill bacteria. This action of long chain unsaturated fats like omega-3 fatty acids combined with the natural host defenses like gastric acid and antimicrobial peptides are lethal to harmful bacteria.
Alcock believes that these differing microbial effects explain why some fats are inflammatory while some are not. After looking into years of research on the influence of microbial growth and their inflammatory effects, the researchers found a highly significant relationship between fats that lack antimicrobial properties and their pro-inflammatory effects. These inflammatory effects ultimately lead to chronic conditions like heart disease.
The researchers state that while their hypothesis is well supported by current data, more research needs to be done.
University of Chicago Press Journals. Why some fats are worse than others. ScienceDaily. Retrieved August 28, 2012.
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