Fat is complex. You see there are lots of different types of fat. And then there are sub-types of fats. And probably sub-sub-types, and sub-sub-sub-types (you get where this is going so I'll stop there!).
What does this mean? Well, it means that not all fats are created equal. What may be true for one type of fat is not true for another.
And in all things dietary there is still an awful lot we don't know about fats.
But what we are starting to appreciate is that one of the links between dietary fat and diseases such as obesity, type 2 diabetes, neurological disorders and degenerative eye diseases which are caused in part by inflammation is ... gut bugs!
Lipopolysaccharides (LPS) is what connects dietary fat, gut bacteria and inflammation.
LPS is found in abundance in the cell walls of bacteria in the gut. With the amount of bacteria in our gut this can work out to be a lot of LPS. Normally this isn’t an issue, however when put together with certain clinical pictures (such as obesity, type 2 diabetes, certain diets) LPS shifts out of the gut and in to the blood stream. In the blood stream LPS can trigger a chronic, low level inflammation response which can increase risk of insulin resistance and disease development.
This is basically how it works. And, as with anything there are still a lot of gaps in our knowledge.
But what is a “high fat diet” and do all fats in a “high fat diet” cause the same problems?
In New Zealand current recommendations are that we have about 20-35% energy from fat each day, with about 10% from saturated fats. Find out what this means
A study where one meal containing wholemeal bread spread with 50g butter showed that in healthy men this amount of fat increased LPS to a level which could lead to changes in inflammation over the long term.
Let’s put this in to context. 50g butter in one meal. A serving size for butter is 1 teaspoon, about the same size as the tip of your thumb to the first knuckle. 1 teaspoon is about 5g. So 50g butter in this study would be about 10 teaspoons. Most people would spread at least 2 teaspoons on a slice of toast.
Another study looked at 33g fat from mixed sources – butter, olive oil, margarine which again caused an increase in LPS level in healthy men.
A “Western” Diet where 40% of the total calories was from fat (about 100g fat a day) and of this about 51g (21%) was from saturated fat lead to an increase in inflammatory markers when compared to a diet containing 20% energy from fat (about 50g per day) and about 14g saturated fat.
Animal studies suggest different fats are dealt with differently, with emulsified fats (i.e. margarines) producing more LPS.
So where does this leave us?
What should we do?
Needless to say there will be more on this topic as we find out more!
Erridge, C., Attina, T., Spickett, C. M. & Webb, D. J. 2007. A high-fat meal induces low-grade endotoxemia: evidence of a novel mechanism of postprandial inflammation. The American journal of clinical nutrition, 86, 1286-1292.
Laugerette, F., Vors, C., Géloën, A., Chauvin, M.-A., Soulage, C., Lambert-Porcheron, S., Peretti, N., Alligier, M., Burcelin, R., Laville, M., Vidal, H. & Michalski, M.-C. 2011. Emulsified lipids increase endotoxemia: possible role in early postprandial low-grade inflammation. The Journal of Nutritional Biochemistry, 22, 53-59. Available: DOI http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.jnutbio.2009.11.011.
Moreira, A. P. B., Texeira, T. F. S., Ferreira, A. B., Peluzio, M. d. C. G. & Alfenas, R. d. C. G. 2012. Influence of a high-fat diet on gut microbiota, intestinal permeability and metabolic endotoxaemia. British Journal of Nutrition, 108, 801-809.
Murphy, E. A., Velazquez, K. T. & Herbert, K. M. 2015. Influence of high-fat diet on gut microbiota: a driving force for chronic disease risk. Curr Opin Clin Nutr Metab Care, 18, 515-20. Available: DOI 10.1097/mco.0000000000000209.
Pendyala, S., Walker, J. M. & Holt, P. R. 2012. A High-Fat Diet Is Associated With Endotoxemia That Originates From the Gut. Gastroenterology, 142, 1100-1101.e2. Available: DOI 10.1053/j.gastro.2012.01.034 [Accessed 2016/11/22].
Katrina Pace, Dietitian
Gut bugs fascinate me. Diet and gut bugs intrigue me. Cooking is essential. Add them all together and you get a fairly interesting opinion on life! In my humble opinion.