CERAMIDES are the Missing Link Connecting Saturated Fat to Diabetes

April 03, 2022

Ceramides are the Missing Link to Diabetes and Insulin Resistance

Who cares? I never heard of ceramides. Why would anyone waste their time worrying about something I can't even pronounce? Ah, therein lies the truth. This is one of the metabolic keys to how we get sick. Ok, explain!

First of all, what are ceramides? They are membrane lipids that play a huge role in making your cells' outer membrane more rigid and firmer. They have a waxy component to them. You actually start life coated with a waxy ceramide covering, the vernix caseosa, that newborns have covering them at birth. We wipe it off. Your cornea has a ceramide coating to keep it from drying out. Your skin is the same. It gives us a protective coating that creates an effective barrier. So, we need ceramides for all sorts of valuable structural components in our bodies.

But it's the metabolic effects of membrane-chemistry of ceramides that is the new cutting-edge frontier. Of all the causes of diabetes, it is the sphingolipid ceramide that is the main culprit that combines a plethora of too many nutrients (notably saturated animal fat) and inflammatory cytokines (such as TNF-alpha) to the progression of insulin resistance. That's step one. Step two evidence is that

hypertrophied adipose tissue, after fat cells exceed their storage capacity, neutral lipids overflow and begin to accumulate in non-adipose tissues, inducing organ dysfunction in many organs. Fatty liver, for example. Fatty muscle is another. Finally, being overweight is linearly related to the development of chronic inflammation and the release of cytokines directly from adipocytes or from macrophages that infiltrate adipose tissue. And its ceramides playing a key role in each of these stages.

A little bit of "overweight" results in a little bit of stress on your pancreas. Your beta cells have to crank it up and make more insulin to keep the fat cells responsive and keep glucose in check. Your insulin level rises. (Anything over 5 is risky. You may get away with 7. But 12 is the average American insulin....and goodness, are we ever in trouble. Our pancreas glands wear out and we simply run out of the capacity to make sufficient insulin to keep our stiff, rigid, ceramide-laden fat cells taking up glucose. Intramuscular fat typically made up of ceramides is actually more predictive of insulin resistance than waist-hip ratio or BMI. (Think of marbling in human muscle instead of steak. Your cows are equally ill-served metabolically when you look at your juicy, marbled steak at the grocery store. That cow was also developing diabetes, given time and too much corn. )

It gets more and more complicated as the intermingling of multiple metabolic pathways all pitch in. But that's the nugget. Saturated fat causes insulin resistance. Plain and simple. Ceramides in your cell membranes make up the net mechanism by which that saturated fat carries out its demon effects.

www.What will Work for me. Aha! Here is the conundrum. I want to lose weight. If I eat bacon (the epitome of saturated fat food,) I feel full and don't eat too much. And I can lose weight. Turns out getting into ketosis and burning off all that fat in your liver, your muscles, your heart, your pancreas....all the places that fat has accumulated as you stuffed yourself with corn chips, and donuts and rice and bread....is the means to reverse the metabolic damage. So, a few months of bacon and saturated fat will reverse your metabolic ceramide disaster. Getting slender has a goal in sight. If your glucose is below 86, your insulin below 5, your A1c below 5.5 you are likely in good shape. Now, keep it there. The ability to measure ceramide levels is coming on the market and is included in the Prodrome test of plasmalogens. We finally have a lab that is including it in their panel. We just need to start using it.

References: Frontiers Endo., JBC, Wikipedia, Cell Metabolism,

Pop Quiz

1. What are ceramides?                                Answer: waxy fats that provide membrane stability to our cells, so crucial components of the structure of our membranes.

2. How do ceramides cause trouble?                             Answer: Ah, the nugget. Too much saturated fat forces us to make too many ceramides and our membranes get goofy. Not sure exactly where or how, but those ceramides are stiff and rigid, making membranes that are meant to be more fluid dysfunctional.

3. What is the simplest way to measure the metabolic dysfunction of too many ceramides?                 Answer: Insulin level. Get it below 5.

4. How can I reverse my ceramide damage?                                                  Answer: cut the flood of carbs, lose weight, get your fat cells smaller, and allow your body to burn off all that extra stored fat that is crammed into every niche in your body.

5. And what is the easiest way to lose weight without being way too hungry?                           Answer: have a diet of omega-3 rich animal products and get yourself into ketosis. That allows your insulin level to get to 2 and your fat cells to open up and share their calories. Over a couple of months, you will drain your liver, your muscles, your pancreas, your heart....and return to metabolic stability. If you could find pure grass-raised meat, and ocean-caught fish, you would be perfect, but perfect is hard to find in our modern world. And you can only eat so many wild-caught sardines.