Fatty Acids

Good News If You Love Butter and Cheese

By Ben Fuchs | PharmacistBen

Good News If You Love Butter and Cheese

Butter at the Borough Market in London. Image credit: Charles Haynes [CC BY-SA 2.0], via Wikimedia

(PharmacistBen) If you love butter and cheese you’re gonna love this: Last week a study was published in the respected British Medical Journal showing evidence that 60 years of government and medical convention linking cardiovascular disease to fat consumption was based on bad science.

The article scientifically corroborated last years’ Time Magazine cover story on the failures of the so-called “Lipid Hypothesis” (lipid is the scientific designation for fat) , which incorrectly blamed excessive consumption of dairy products, meat and other fatty foods for heart attacks. The article entitled “Eat Butter” admitted that after years or proclaiming fats as villains, as it turns out, they may have been mistaken.Now in fairness, Time Magazine and representatives of the medical model can be forgiven for their ignorance. Fats are confusing. There’s good fats, bad fats, shorts fat, long fats saturated fats and unsaturated fats and because of their tremendous diversity and functionality, no aspect of nutrition or diet is harder to understand than the chemistry of lipids.

Dietary and nutritional fats are called triglycerides. They’re composed of building blocks called “fatty acids” which come in three sizes large, medium and small. While they all three play an important role in keeping the body healthy the effects of the short fats or as they are more technically called, short chain fatty acids (SCFAs), is particularly significant, if unrecognized. These little molecular fatty structures play an especially huge role in the health of the intestine and via this link they have can affect the whole body.

SCFAs are made in the large intestine by fiber munching bacteria which secrete the fatty molecules as a byproduct. SCFAs can also be ingested via the diet. From the intestine these tiny lipids readily enter into the blood circulation and travel throughout the body eventually entering into the brain.

An increase in SCFA concentration in the blood is one of the main signals for appetite suppression. In essence SCFAs biochemically curb the appetite and in essence represent a type fat that helps you drop pounds. Eat butter, lose weight! While it may seem like fat is fat and all just sits around on our thighs or hips and does nothing, from a biology perspective fats are quite active as messenger molecules telling the body and brain what’s happening in the digestive system. They are signaling molecules and once this is understood it becomes clear why the outdated dietician and medical advice to avoid all fat is bad science and bad health advice.

Short fats can have brain health benefits too, especially when comes to calming things down. This fact explains the important link between the intestine and the brain, the so-called gut-brain axis, and its relationship to the development of schizophrenia, autism and mental health issues in general. Via this SCFA mechanism, the somewhat counter-intuitive notion (after all the intestine is located about as far away from the brain as you can get!) that what we eat affects how we think can be explained.

All SCFAs have a calming effect but the most significant as far as relaxation benefits are concerned is called butyric acid,the chemical that gives butter is characteristic qualities and taste. The bacteria that produce butyric acid kick into high gear when food is scarce and many researchers believe this is the mechanism behind the health benefits associate with fasting.

And butyric acid derivatives induced by caloric restriction may have a mitigating effect on pain and inflammation. That’s what’s scientists from Yale School of Medicine concluded in an article that was published in the journal “Nature Medicine”. Even more significantly, the researchers found that these benefits may extend to health challenges like atherosclerosis, diabetes and dementias that are typically not associated with inflammatory pain.

All of this means that upregulating butyric acid and increasing its levels in the blood can be one of the most important and effective of all dietary health strategies. Enjoying butter and cheese, nature’s richest sources of butyric acid is a good idea. And, because butyric acid is produced by a reaction between fiber and microbes that live in the large intestine you want to make sure you’ve got enough good bacteria and you’re ingesting generous amounts of veggies, mushrooms and fruits. Get yourself on a good probiotic supplement, look for multiple strains of bacteria and use a daily dose of 10-50 billion units and make sure you’re eating lots of fermented foods like sauerkraut, miso soup and fresh, non-pasteurized kefir and yogurt

Posted by Ben Fuchs in Nutrition