Q

Fats

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

A Answers (1)

  • A , Naturopathic Medicine, answered
    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.

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What is the function of fats in cellular membranes?