Advertisement

What determines the type of fatty acid present in the cell membrane?

Michael T. Murray, ND
Naturopathic Medicine
The type of fatty acid present in the cell membrane is determined by the type of fat you consume. A diet that is high in cholesterol and composed mostly of saturated fat, animal fatty acids, and trans-fatty acids (from margarine, shortening, and other sources of hydrogenated vegetable oils) results in cell membranes that are much less fluid in nature than those found in a person who consumes an optimal level of unsaturated fatty acids.

According to modern pathology, or the study of disease processes, an alteration in the function of the cell membrane is the central factor in the development of virtually every disease. As it relates to diabetes, theabnormal structure of the cell membrane due to eating the wrong types of fat leads to impairment in the action of insulin. Without a healthy membrane, cells lose their ability to hold water, vital nutrients, and electrolytes. Without the right types of fat in cell membranes, cells simply do not function properly. In particular, they lose their ability to communicate with other cells and be controlled by regulating hormones. To highlight the impact of having the right types of fat in the cell membranes, let's look at the effect of different diets on insulin action. Insulin is a hormone produced by the pancreas that plays a critical role in regulating blood sugar. Loss of sensitivity to the effects of insulin is linked to obesity and Type 2 diabetes. While margarine and saturated fats dampen insulin sensitivity, clinical studies have shown that monounsaturated fats and omega-3 oils improve insulin action. Adding further support to these studies is the fact that population studies have indicated that frequent consumption of monounsaturated fats, such as olive oil, nuts and nut oils, and omega-3 fatty acids from fish protect against the development of Type 2 diabetes. A similar association is seen with more than fifty health conditions, including heart disease, cancer, and arthritis.
Encyclopedia of Healing Foods

More About this Book

Encyclopedia of Healing Foods

From the bestselling authors of The Encyclopedia of Natural Medicine, the most comprehensive and practical guide available to the nutritional benefits and medicinal properties of virtually everything...

Continue Learning about Fats

How Saturated Fats Make You Fatter
How Saturated Fats Make You Fatter
When Star Trek: Deep Space Nine’s shape-shifting Odo (René Auberjonois) decides to change the way his body looks, he morphs from a gelatinous blob to ...
Read More
What fatty acids are essential?
Dr. Andrea Pennington, MDDr. Andrea Pennington, MD
Essential fatty acids are necessary fats that humans cannot produce, and must be obtained through pr...
More Answers
Does dietary fat affect depression?
RealAgeRealAge
In a large 11-year study, cutting back on unhealthy fats -- like those in high-fat dairy -- and inst...
More Answers
What Kind of Visceral Fat In My Body Can Be Harmful?
What Kind of Visceral Fat In My Body Can Be Harmful?

Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.