Want to avoid diabetes? Then eat more fat and fiber and less carbohydrates. Have metabolic syndrome? Then eat more fat and fiber and less carbohydrates. Did your doctor tell you that you have a fatty liver? Then eat more fat and fiber and less carbohydrates. Do all these statements sound more than a little crazy to you? Well if they do, read on.
Scientists recently examined a fat in your blood stream called palmitoleic acid, also called palmitoleate. Previous studies in mice have shown that palmitoleic acid prevents insulin resistance and fatty liver disease. Both of these disorders are extremely prevalent these days. Insulin resistance is what's behind the diabetes epidemic. Fatty liver is the second leading cause of liver transplants in the U.S. The researchers wanted to see if palmitoleic acid might have the same effect in humans that it does in mice. So here's what they did.
They took 100 men and women who were obese and had signs of metabolic syndrome. They were all set up to develop diabetes. The average age was 45 years. For nine months, the researchers put them on a program of three or more hours of moderate exercise per week. They also put them on an extremely high-fiber, relatively low-carbohydrate diet that contained 15 grams of fiber in every 1,000 calories they ate. The diet was also low in saturated fats (less than 10%) and contained less than 30% total fat. Before and after the nine months, they measured the levels of insulin sensitivity, the amount of fatty liver in each of the men and women, and their blood levels of palmitoleic acid. The results were amazing.
The average level of insulin sensitivity more than doubled! In addition, their weight dropped, their visceral fat decreased, and the fatty livers improved. And what about the palmitoleic acid levels? The people with the highest levels of palmitoleic acid had the greatest improvement. And those with the lowest levels had the lowest improvement.
The researchers concluded, "These novel data strongly support that palmitoleic acid may also be involved in the regulation of insulin sensitivity in humans. Circulating palmitoleic acid strongly and independently predicts insulin sensitivity, suggesting that it plays an important role in the pathophysiology of insulin resistance in humans." That means that palmitoleic acid has the capacity to prevent our diabetes epidemic.
So where do we get all this palmitoleic acid? Mostly, we make it. We synthesize it from the fats in the foods we eat. But here's the thing. The synthesis occurs from the action of the enzyme delta-9 desaturase. And diabetics are typically low in this enzyme. Delta-9 desaturase needs zinc in order to work. And zinc is very commonly low in many people, particularly those with metabolic syndrome. So you have to think that zinc levels play an important role in who can make the most palmitoleic acid. But besides making palmitoleic acid, you can also get it in your diet. And that's where the fat comes in.
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Palmitoleic acid is found in animal oils, particularly butter, cheese, and egg yolks. It is also high in certain marine oils, macadamia oil, and olive oil. So if you have been told by your doctor that you have metabolic syndrome or are at risk for getting diabetes, here are some changes you can make.
Develop an exercise program that consists of at least 3 or more hours per week of moderate to intense exercise. The researchers in the above study were quick to point out that according to the data, the most significant cause of the increase in palmitoleic acid levels was the exercise program. In addition, take a zinc supplement. And have a diet containing a very high level of fiber along with an increased intake of the foods high in palmitoleic acid. My
Super Immune QuickStart powder is loaded with fiber and also has a decent amount of the best form of zinc, zinc picolinate. A heaping scoop every day should do it.
Finally, remember this. The program went on for nine months. That's a long time. And it basically means that if you really want to avoid diabetes you have to make these changes for the rest of your life. A short little boot camp won't do it.
Yours for better health,
Frank Shallenberger, MD
Stefan N, Kantartzis K, Celebi N, et al. Circulating palmitoleate strongly and independently predicts insulin sensitivity in humans. Diabetes Care. 2010 Feb;33(2):405-7.