CLA: Inflammation Breaker or Too Dangerous?

February 08, 2016

CLA: Inflammation Breaker? Fat Burner or Too Risky? 

 Reference: Science News, Diabetes 2007, Dairy Herd 2001, FASEB, Authority Nutrition Published Feb 8, 2016 

 Mark Cook was a University of Wisconsin scientist when he got interested in CLA. Mark was probably the first and leading researcher to investigate these trace fat molecules that are already present in our food.   CLA stands for conjugated linoleic acid. There are essentially two different ones, depending on where they put their two double bonds.   C9, T 11 means there is a “same side” (cis) at the 9th carbon, and a “opposite side” (trans) at the 11th carbon.   T10, C12 means the opposite side bond is at T10 and the same side double bond is at C12.  

 Sorry, didn’t mean to drown you in detail. Cows naturally make these two fats in their milk. The more grass they eat, the more c9, t11 they make.   The more grain, the more t10, c12 they make.   You can adjust the proportion in animals by how much grain their get in their diet. Now, what is interesting is that t10, c12 is a remarkable inflammation fighter.   Every cell in our body has an inflammation activator called NFκB that is normally quiescent and dormant. It has to be activated.   With activation, NFκB turns the production of COX-2 and other inflammatory agents.   That’s the common pathway for all inflammation. And CLA turns it off. Not only does it inhibit NFκB, but it also downregulates the COX2 activity. 

 Whether it’s anti-inflammatory effect is primary, or whether there is something else, CLA has tended to be used also as a weight loss supplement.   It has been widely reported on and summary reviews tend to agree, it does work for weight loss, for about the first 6 months. After that, its effect seems to dissipate. It appears to reduce fat mass and increase muscle mass.   Its mechanisms of action include stimulating the breakdown of fat.   Because of those effects, it appears to be quite good at helping reduce the problems of diabetes.   People with the most CLA in their fat tissue have the least amount of heart disease. Of course, that CLA is coming from grass raised animals which might also mean those folks got K2 or omega fats which also show up in the milk and meat of grass raised animals. 

 Can you take too much CLA? This is also interesting. The answer might well be “yes”. It appears that those who take the supplement form which is artificially made from vegetable oils and has more of the t10, c12 version, have more liver fat and a tendency to having metabolic syndrome. And most confounding is data suggesting that the t10, c12 version can cause inflammation

The best study looking at side effects showed that it did help with weight loss, but caused some folks to have funny tummies.   What’s a person to do? So, what’s a person to do? If you want to lose weight, this might help for 6 months. But I wouldn’t advise you take more than 3-4 grams a day so that you don’t get to the fatty liver stuff. And if you want to try it, make sure you get liver functions drawn before and every 6 months during taking it. 

 WWW. What will work for me?  Well, I know one person who has taken modest doses for 15 years and has crystal clean arteries, fantastic lipid levels, and no inflammation.   I think I would rather eat a clean ketogenic diet and lose weight the old-fashioned way.   

 Pop Quiz

  1. CLA is naturally made by animals that eat grass? T or F                      Answer:  Well, true. Goats and sheep have it too.
  1. CLA is present in trace quantities in milk. To lower inflammation, you would need to drink about 100 calories of milk a day. T or F                             Answer:  Not included above, but true.
  1. CLA has been found to not help with weight loss                      Answer:  False. It works for about 6 months and then tapers off
  1. CLA also lowers NFκB, my inflammation factory? T or F                 Answer:  That’s correct
  1. The OTC supplement, CLA, can safely be taken for weight loss. T or F                 Answer:                                           Possibly false. When we take it for weight loss, we get a supplement made from vegetable oils and the balance is different. That difference seems to play out with more fatty liver and tummy symptoms. May be scary.