Saturated fats are throwing off our internal clocks, resulting in health problems

Published: Jul. 15, 2019 at 5:45 PM CDT
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A study led by a Texas A&M College of Medicine professor found that eating saturated fatty acids can slow down internal circadian clocks, resulting in inflammation and other health problems.

Now, that same researcher says there may be a way to block those effects.

"We've been using drugs that are high-powered pharmaceuticals, such as you might use to treat rheumatoid arthritis," said David Earnest, the Texas A&M Health Science Center researcher on this study. "While those drugs won't be useful for regular use, we're going to test other non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs, such as ibuprofen and aspirin."

Earnest says this is an important breakthrough to mitigate the effects of those saturated fatty acids. However, he also encourages people to avoid those saturated fats in general, and particularly late at night.

Details are below from the Texas A&M Health Science Center:

"It is a continuation of Earnest’s earlier studies that found saturated fats — specifically palmitate, or palm oil, one of the most commonly consumed long-chain saturated fats in the Western diet — 'jet lag' cells in your body so that some are reset to different 'time zones.' Earnest compares this phenomenon to the confusion that would develop if the wall clock in your office was set to 2 p.m., the one on your computer indicated 4 p.m. and your wristwatch was showing 2:30 p.m., all while the clock on your cellphone reflected the accurate time of 1 p.m. CST. Your body is similarly confused when 'clocks' in various cells are set to different times of the day or night.

"Circadian clocks in cells throughout the body regulate the local 24-hour timing of important cellular processes necessary for normal functioning and help keep inflammatory responses in check. Eating foods with saturated fats — especially at certain times of the day — may 'jet lag' internal clocks, resulting in inflammation that contributes to obesity, type 2 diabetes, and cardiovascular disease."

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