So I do everything wrong, kind of on purpose. I eat white flour and dairy. I combine starch, protein and saturated fat. I drink black coffee and/or red wine all day long. MANY/MOST OF MY MEALS ARE DEEP FRIED.
My sleep habits are haphazard at best. This is the time of year when they are the worst. Something about the shortening days of fall gives me maximum insomnia. This year hasn’t been the worst but I’d rate my sleep as not great.
I’m doing a new dietary trial, which I think you’re going to find VERY interesting, but I’m not quite ready to talk about it so check back in on that. What I want to talk about here is my pre-trial inflammatory markers.
When I was recording my podcast with Ben Greenfield, he mentioned that combining saturated fat with starch could possibly elevate levels of LPS, a marker of intestinal permeability and, therefore, inflammation. I’ve already written about that here.
It actually caught my attention, because I also do several other things that are supposed to increase gut permeability and therefore inflammation, including – as I said – eating white flour, fried food, drinking lots of ethanol and eating dairy on top of my irregular sleep pattern. I’m also coming down from a BMI that was recently 38, showing that I probably also have or had metabolic syndrome. I’m 45 years old.
I should be a walking tower of inflammation!!!
Inflammation Vs. ROS
Inflammation and ROS are often conflated in people’s minds. They are two distinct processes that are often correlated. Inflammation is mediated by your immune system. INFLAMMATION IS AN IMMUNE PROCESS. ROS can be produced by your immune system but is also produced in the mitochondria as a signal to the cell that fat is being burned.
ROS in overwhelming quantities can be quite dangerous and the immune system uses ROS as one of the tools in its bag for fighting off invaders. For instance, phagocytes – immune cells that are crucial for fending off infections from bacteria at the site of a wound (for instance) have embedded NADPH oxidase enzymes in their membranes that can release a stream of ROS to literally burn invaders to death. This is kind of like a miniature fire tornado in your body caused by your immune system.
So your immune system uses ROS as a tool in its toolkit!
It’s less clear, but it’s also likely that ROS production can stimulate inflammation. To quote a recent paper:
And so inflammation can cause ROS production definitely and ROS production can cause inflammation, probably. But that does NOT mean that ROS equals inflammation or vice versa! They are two distinct processes that interact with each other.
I’ve been eating a diet for most of the last 15 months designed to promote maximal ROS production in my mitochondria as a signal to the cell that I’m burning fat and therefore my metabolism should act appropriately. I believe that the consumption of polyunsaturated fats – found in vegetable oils, nuts, olive and avocado oil and in the body fat of livestock fed grains – results in a pathological lack of ROS production in the mitochondria, which in turn leads to metabolic dysregulation.
ROS is the signal.
Therefore I’ve been eating a diet very high in saturated fats that minimizes polyunsaturated anf monounsaturated fats. My preferred sources of fat are butter, stearic acid enhanced butteroil, pastured beef suet, cocoa butter and low-PUFA pork.
I consume these fats with wine, resulting in maximal mitochondrial ROS production with the goal being physiological insulin resistance in my fat cells. When my fat cells ignore insulin they release fat as energy to the rest of my body. I describe this all in the series The ROS Theory Of Obesity.
I just got a bunch of bloodwork done – I literally got the results yesterday – in part to answer the question of whether my diet of saturated fat combined with white flour, dairy and wine was causing inflammation. I did two separate analyses: I got my red blood cell lipid profile at OmegaQuant and I got my C Reactive Protein (CRP), Tumor Necrosis Factor-Alpha (TNF) and Interleuken-6 (IL-6) tested thanks to ownyourlabs.com, the testing service run by the always amazing Dave Feldman and Siobhan Huggins.
The OmegaQuant results added more fuel to the fire. My red blood cell membranes are VERY low – off the charts low – in “anti-inflammatory” Omega 3 polyunsaturated fats. The range of scores, according to them, encompasses 99% of the population. I was well outside of the range (2.4%, the low end of the range is 2.9%). My Omega 6 fats – which I’ve been purposely avoiding – were also at the very bottom of the range.
My ratio of Omega 6 to Omega 3 fats is also terrible by traditional standards. According to OmegaQuant I am “in the red”:
Now you all know my birthday. I expect a card.
I am WINNING at saturated fat, though! I’m off the charts high!! At 39.7% saturated fat I am fully 2 percentage points higher that the highest people in 99% of the population, who check in at 37.7%.
OK. Let’s do a summary before I tell you the results:
- I eat a diet that I PURPOSEFULLY designed to generate ROS
- My Omega-6 to Omega-3 ratio is “in the red”
- I lack polyunsaturated fats in general and am high in saturated fats
- I eat tons of fried food (made at home, fried in pastured beef suet)
- I stay up late drinking wine
- I recently had a BMI of 38 with significant abdominal (visceral) fat, known to be linked with inflammation
- I eat white flour, cornstarch and dairy daily
- I drink tons of coffee
- I’m 45
- My sleep habits are bad. Even as I write this, it’s 1am.
Get to The Results Already!
OK, here they are:
There they are! All three inflammation markers are low. They’re not even average, they’re LOW despite the fact that I’m doing everything “wrong”. I am NOT inflamed although I presumably generate a lot of ROS due to my high saturated fat content and low PUFA content.
How Can This BE?!
I’ll defer to the authors of this study. LA means”linoleic acid”. This is the polyunsaturated (PUFA) Omega-6 fat that I have less than 97% of the population. SFA is saturated fat, which I have more than 99% of the population.
Keep it saturated.