The Dangers of PUFAs (polyunsaturated fats)

Autoimmunity and immunodeficiency (weak immunity) are at an all time high. At the very root of the health of the body is the immune system, and therefore, most disease can be traced back to a damaged immune system. If you wish to be healthy, it doesn’t matter what disease you are fighting, your primary goal is to improve the strength of the immune system.

Of the many things that damage the immune system (radiation, hormone imbalance, cancer, aging, viral infections, and other various stressors) one of the most overlooked factors today attributing to a weak the immune system’s function is polyunsaturated fat consumption.

Interestingly enough, the media has no problem with discussing the immunpsuppressing effects of drugs and STDs, but wouldn’t dare discuss revenges of highly unstable, oxidized and volatile vegetable oils that saturate the industrial foods American’s eat daily.

WHAT ARE POLYUNSATURATED FATS?

Polyunsaturated fats are unsaturation lipids, which are marked molecularly by the removal of hydrogen atoms. A saturated fat molecule has all of its hydrogen atoms. This absence of hydrogen leaves the molecular structure vulnerable to attack by free radicals.

Free radicals are reactive molecular fragments that occur even in all cells, with a potential to damage the cell. When unsaturated lipids are exposed to free radicals they create chain reactions of oxidative stress that spread and damage and age the cell.

For this reason, polyunsaturated fats very toxic and hazardous to the health of the body on a cellular level. While these oils are often referred to as “essential fatty acids” they are anything but essential, they are anti-metabolic and inflammatory to the body due to their highly reactive nature.

For a matter of fact, in the late 1940s, polyunsaturated fats were intentionally used to suppress the thyroid function of pigs in order to fatten them up with consuming less food. In other words, it has been known for some time that PUFAs are highly anti-metabolic due to their anti-thyroid effects on the body.

Examples of PUFAs include:

  • soybean oil
  • canola oil
  • corn oil
  • safflower oil
  • sesame oil
  • sunflower seed oil,
  • almond oil (mostly used topically)

THE ANTI-HEALTH EFFECTS OF PUFAs

Due to their poor molecular structure, PUFAs are very unstable and highly reactive to oxygen, light and heat. This causes them to oxidize very quickly exposed to these elements (oxygen, light and heat.) Additionally, because most polyunsaturated fats are liquid and bought and sold commercially; they often sit for long periods of time in bottles where they can oxidize easily. They are already delicate enough structurally, but by the time they are consumed, they enter the body already rancid, which starts the process of inflammation and cell aging.

As we discussed briefly, the major reason PUFAs are so dangerous, that being their reactivity with free radicals and attribution to cellular aging. And while the FDA and medical literature promote the consumption of essential fatty acids they fail to explain the following specific health consequences:

  • Oxidative and Aging – PUFAs become rancid when exposed to oxygen; this is called oxidation. Free radicals are produced during oxidation, which react with various parts of cells (DNA and protein) and cause disorder of structure and function and cell damage.
  • Hormone disrupting – Unsaturated fats cause many hormonal fluctuations, mostly by their suppressant effect on the thyroid gland. In short, PUFAs inhibit thyroid hormone secretion as well as the movement of thyroid hormone throughout the circulatory system and receptor sites of thyroid hormone in tissues. When the thyroid hormone is deficient, the body becomes stressed as it is increasingly more vulnerable to increased levels of estrogen and prolactin. Additionally, we need thyroid hormone to produce “protective hormones” like testosterone, progesterone and pregnenolone. So not only do they cause the increase of stress hormones, they also lower the secretion of protective hormones.  Also, the thyroid hormone is required for using and eliminating cholesterol (both jobs managed by the liver). So, cholesterol levels are highest amongst those with low thyroid. There is also an interesting relationship between PUFAS and estrogen. Specifically, puberty occurs at an earlier age when estrogen is high, which is common amongst females today. Early puberty though is not necessarily a good thing, as growth relation is off. This is probably a factor in the development of cancer (where cell growth is abnormal), as well as other hormonal health related issues like hair loss, acne, and  infertility.
  • Immunosuppressive – Vegetable oil is actually a recognized drug for suppressing the immune system. In fact, emulsions of unsaturated oils were used to treat cancer patients until they discovered that they were suppressing their immune systems further. Today, these emulsions are used to intentionally suppressing immunity in people who have had organ transplants. Eating these oils will in fact suppress immune function.
  • Antithyroid – The enzymes which break down proteins for digestion are also used to produce thyroid hormone. PUFAS block the secretion of these enzymes and thereby inhibit both digestion, metabolism and thyroid function.  This can lead to issues like clotting, low immunity, aging, obesity, and cancer are increased.

Other negative health effects of PUFAs include:

  • Lipid peroxidative effects
  • Antimitochondrial effects
  • Inhibition of glucose oxidation
  • Cancerous (metastatic cancer)
  • Toxic to the liver

Ultimately, all bodily systems are harmed by an excess intake of these oils. There are two core reasons for this…

One is due to the plants built-in protective qualities. The same means in which a plant protects itself chemically, also happen to inhibit digestive enzymes. Digestion is the most important basic physiological function in the body. If we cannot digest, we will not metabolize, assimilate and detoxify either.  As a result of their anti-digestive properties, all of these systems are damaged by the excessive intake of PUFAs.

Secondly, because the seeds that PUFAs are derived from (canola, soy, etc.) are designed to germinate in early spring, their energy is only available in cooler temperatures, as they naturally and normally do not need to be viable through the hotter months. Unlike saturated oils, unsaturated oils remain in liquid form, even when they are cold. Because of this, these oils easily become rancid when they are heated even slightly or exposed to light and oxygen.

When we consume these oils, they are stored in our tissues where they are both warm and directly exposed to oxygen. This greatly increases their likelihood to oxidize and create oxidative stress, which then inhibits normal physiological processes.

In addition to their own natural toxicity and “built-in pesticides”, PUFAs seeds are commonly genetically modified and sprayed with industrial pesticides, which can concentrate in the seed oils, making the oil that much more toxic.

To conclude on the dangers of PUFAs, all systems of the body are harmed by an excess consumption these oils. They attack the body in three primary ways; by creating hormonal imbalances, suppressing the immune system, and producing oxidative stress.

WHAT CAN YOU DO ABOUT IT?

I am not an advocate for orthorexia, the fear of food or dogma of any sorts; I am an advocate for facts and science. Based on the science, there is an undeniable amount of evidence that these foods are no good for the body. From common sense alone, these oils are highly unnatural. Therefore, the simplest thing you could do is just not consume them. However, until this becomes second nature and non-stressful, you shouldnt worry too much.

Something to know is that it isn’t the quantity of these polyunsaturated oils which determines the harm they do – it is the ratio between unsaturaates and the saturated fats that does. All of their negative effects (obesity, aging, inflammation, immune suppression, hormonal balance, energy production etc.) are all responsive to the ratio of unsaturated fats to saturated fats. Generally, the higher this ratio is (PUFAs:SATURATED) the greater the harm.

This is perhaps proof of how chronic behavior leads to problems. It is also evidence that the phrase “everything in moderation” may very well be the sanest and simplest health advise there is.

So, a small amount of these oils won’t kill you. It is the proportion of them in your diet that matters. If your entire diet consists of industrial, processed, junk food then it’s likely your every meal will contain PUFAa – that is the problem. But the occasional canola oil in your dinner while out to eat will not kill you.

In this respect though, it isn’t helpful to just tell you to never consume these oils again and not give you a replacement. Rather than trying to never consume a PUFA again, simply upgrade your fat and oil selection.

The safest, healthiest oils include:

Most PUFAs are vegetable based, but both coconut and olive oil (stone ground and organic) are safe; however, animal sources are going to be the safest, given that the animals were not poisoned with antibiotics, hormones and GMO grain-feed diets.