Recent studies have demonstrated that excessive levels of certain saturated fatty acids cause mitochondria to fragment which leads to insulin resistance in muscle. This insulin resistance is a precursor to type 2 diabetes.
Disrupting mitochondrial function leads to muscle insulin resistance which can eventually become type 2 diabetes.
Mitochondria are the intracellular powerhouses that turn carbohydrates into energy, and skeletal muscle is packed with them. Normally, cells respond to insulin, by escorting glucose from the bloodstream. Type 2 diabetes is characterized by progressive insulin resistance, a cellular impairment in glucose uptake.
The new research offers a new explanation for this phenomenon. Disrupting mitochondrial function may be the beginning of muscle insulin resistance in obesity and type 2 diabetes. The study also supports previous research suggesting that reducing saturated fats in the diet would reduce insulin resistance, according to researchers. Palmitate, a fatty acid found in margarine, is particularly harmful to mitochondria.
Maintaining mitochondrial function and optimal cellular metabolism is related to specific fats in the diet.
Our recommendation, backed by research, is to include a variety of naturally occuring fats from plant sources and animal sources, avoiding processed or hydrogenated fats found in packaged an processed foods, including fast food.
When it comes to mitochondrial health, more is not always better. Striking a healthy balance of healthy fats for optimal mitochondrial function means not always following current food and nutrition trends.
High fat diets, like ketogenic or paleo, may cause more inflammation if prescribed prior to using the BX Protocol to upregulate mitochondrial function.
So we recommend a moderate or lower fat diet prior to you or your clients using the BX Protocol. Once mitochondria are healthy and optimally functioning, a higher fat diet won’t add strain to an already stressed system.
A healthy variety of fats in the diet would include foods like:
- Avocados and avocado oil
- Coconut oil
- Olive oil
- Some butter
- Avoiding lard, hydrogenated oils and bacon fats initially or at least until mitochondria are healthy.
Saturated fats are solid at room temperature. Things like peanut butter, coconut oil and avocados contain some saturated fats. Butter contains some saturated fat as well.
Unsaturated fats are liquid at room temperature. Oils like olive oil, sunflower oil, and safflower oil contain unsaturated fats.
All fats actually contain a mix of saturated and unsaturated fats.
The fatty acids in fats are the basic building blocks for lipid structures in the body and fall under categories you may have heard of:
Omega 3’s which must be eaten on a daily basis for optimal health. They are used in the formation of cell structures, including mitochondria, and improve circulation and oxygen uptake. The body cannot readily produce omega 3’s so these must be consumed in the diet from foods like fish, walnuts, and plant oils as well as vegetables and grass fed beef.
Omega 6’s work in conjunction with omega 3’s, but typically we get far too much omega 6 in the diet from processed and packaged foods. Rarely should the focus be on increasing omega 6, rather omega 3’s. Some omega 6’s have an anti-inflammatory effect, but most are involved in the inflammation process, the body’s response to insult or injury. You can see that an overabundance of omega 6’s in the diet can lead to too much inflammation and ROS damage in the mitochondria.
Common fatty acids have names like
- Butyric acid from butter
- Caproic acid also from butter
- Caprylic acid from coconut oil
- Lauric acid also from coconut oil
- Palmitic acid from palm oil
- Stearic acid from animal fats
- Oleic acid from olive oil
- Docosohexanoic acid from fish oil
These are just a few examples of fatty acids used for cellular structures. It’s important to understand that before adding certain fatty acids in, as in supplementation, mitochondrial health needs to be understood so as not to add insult to injury.
Using the BX Protocol is an important first step to upregulating mitochondria. Lipids are important for restoring optimal health to mitochondrial structures but only if this doesn’t involve adding more strain and potential for oxidative damage to mitochondria that need detoxification systems to be upregulated first.