Conjugated Linoleic Acid, also known as CLA, is a family of isomers of linoleic acid. Linoleic acid is the most commonly found omega-6 fatty acid. CLA is commonly found in meat and dairy products, especially those that are classified as ruminants. Ruminants are animals that get their sustenance from a special stomach in the digestive system that ferments the vegetation that they consume. This fermentation occurs prior to digestion on a microbial level. The microbes cause regurgitation of the food, which is then re-chewed and swallowed again for digestion. The ideal food sources for CLAs are ruminants that are grass fed rather than grain fed. The consumption of grass leads to more fermentation that creates the conjugated linoleic acid. Dairy products and meat from grass fed sources have been shown to provide up to 300% to 500% more CLAs than ruminants on grain diets. Eggs also have been found to have high levels of CLAs when the chickens are consuming this type of acid. Also, the CLAs in eggs have been shown to not be affected by high cooking temperatures, making this a good source for this type of fatty acid. There are also some mushrooms that have been found to be some of the only non-animal CLA producing foods.
The cis fat bond creates a lower melting point, and therefor is more beneficial to health. However, CLA is considered conjugated, and in the United States, the linkages of trans in a conjugated system are not considered trans fats for nutritional labeling and regulatory legislation. In a healthy individual, conjugated linoleic acid isomers are CLAs can be either cis-fat or trans-fat. It is marketed as an over the counter dietary supplement and is believed to have many other health benefits. Researchers noted the biological activity of conjugated linoleic acid in 1979 prior to official research. They made this discovery in lab mice who were chemically induced with cancer, and the CLA helped to inhibit the growth of the cancerous cells. Since then research has continued to grow with this amazing linoleic acid, and results in animals have been promising. Research with human participants has been a little more confusing, but with each new study, scientists are finding more positive results that could stand to benefit humans in many areas from weight loss to cancer prevention. Finally, in 2008, the United States Food and Drug Administration categorized CLA as GRAS (generally recognized as safe). Research has included various isomers that are classified as CLAs, focusing most on c9 and t11 CLA. The most recent research has found that these two isomers have very different effects on an individual’s health. As mentioned above, conjugated linoleic acid can be either cis or trans fats. converted biologically from linoleic acid to alpha-linoleic acid. This occurs due to specific bacteria that naturally reside in the gastrointestinal tract of healthy human beings. That being said, certain individuals who are not in good health can not endogenously convert linoleic acid into alpha-linoleic acid. This includes those who are diagnosed with a number of digestive tract diseases, gluten sensitivity and dysbiosis.
CLA Weight Loss Supplement
CLA is marketed as a dietary supplement for several benefits, the top one being its anti-cancer benefits. There is some limited evidence of the cancer inhibiting qualities but still much research to be done with CLAs. The specific mechanism that may inhibit cancer cell growth has yet to be found. Aside from this, many individuals utilize conjugated linoleic acid as body building aids. A 2004 review of the benefits of CLAs noted the found benefits in non-human animals, but there still has yet to be enough research with humans to confirm the evidence of its benefits to humans.
However, many people still use this supplement and claim to have great results. There is also a lack of research and evidence regarding the possible weight loss effects of CLAs. It has been found to have no long term effect on the chemical composition within the human body, but has displayed an effect on insulin response in rats with diabetes. There will have to be more research with human beings to confirm if this effect is similar to that in rats.
CLA controls the excess gain of body fat
There have been some studies that have reflected the ability of CLAs to control the excess gain of body fat. While this does not imply that it helps with actual weight loss, this is still beneficial for individuals who are wanting to lose weight. These linoleic acids may help the body to prevent excess gain of fat. There have been several other noted possible health benefits including immune system enhancement and as an anti-inflammatory. This research has mostly been done with animals and with animal cell cultures, however, so there is still much research to be done with human beings to attempt to find the specific benefits to people. Still, regardless of the lack of official research, there are many people out there who claim to have had great weight loss results from conjugated linoleic acid. And since it is considered safe by the FDA, there should be little to no harm in giving this supplement a try to see if it can help you with your weight loss goals. With the potential to ward off the growth of cancer cells, this supplement could benefit you in great ways aside from weight loss or the prevention of fat gain.
What is known about the anti-obesity properties of CLAs?
In 1987, Pariza and colleagues discovered CLAs and first thought of it as an anti-carcinogen. After this initial work, it was found to have anti-atherosclerotic and anti-obesity properties. With a rise in the prevalence of obesity in the last thirty years, researchers have been interested in the potential of this fatty acid to help with weight loss. Many animal studies have shown a decrease in body fat mass with CLAs. Subsequent research has shown similar effects in, both, rats and pics as well. There has been limited research with humans, but these studies have shown that conjugated linoleic acids may, in fact, work similarly in humans to help decrease body fat mass. Of the 28 isomers that are found in CLAs, it is the 10,12 isomer that has been found to affect obesity in clinical trials. Aside from anti-obesity properties, there is believed to be other properties for overall weight regulation with these fatty acids. Research done by Park and associates attempted to examine the weight regulation properties of CLAs, and found some interesting results. Their research showed that CLA can modulate body composition in mice. The research with humans has produced less consistent results. There has been human research that displayed a reduction in body fat mass along with an increase in lean body mass, while subsequent research has displayed no effect from the supplementation of conjugated linoleic acid in humans when it comes to effects on body composition. One study showed that CLA as a supplement for overweight and obese people decreased body fat mass and increased lean body mass, while a similar study using CLAs in yogurt yielded no results on overall body composition. Also, while some studies have suggested that it wards off weight gain, another study that examined obese people supplementing with CLAs over one year showed no results regarding prevention of body weight regain. The main discrepancy between animal and human trials using conjugated linoleic acid is the amount of the dosage. In research with mice, the dosage is much higher, leaving many scientists to assume that using larger doses in humans may yield better results. It must first, however, be found to be safe in these higher doses for humans. This is why it is so important for researchers to discover the mechanism of action in CLAs.
CLA helps increase metabolic rate
CLAs have been found to reduce or decrease energy intake. When energy intake exceeds the expenditure of energy, an individual will be increasing body weight and body fat mass. Similarly when expenditure exceeds intake, one will lose body weight and decrease body fat mass. Conjugated linoleic acids have been thought to increase energy expenditure through increased basal metabolic rate, thermogenesis, and/or lipid oxidation. One of these studies showed a 50% decrease in in body fat in mice that were fed CLA isomers for six weeks. This also came along with a significant increase in basal metabolic rate, leading researchers to believe the increase in the metabolic rate had the largest effect on the loss of body fat. It is thought that enhanced thermogenesis may be associated with uncoupling proteins being upregulated. This facilitates proton transport, helping to divert energy from ATP synthesis to heat production. These uncoupling proteins are found in various tissues and can play a role in energy regulation and energy dissipation. CLAs also increased other mitochondrial protein expression that may have an effect on body mass and body fat. At the same time, similarly to the studies listed above, comparable studies using human participants have had mixed results with these findings. It is not certain whether or not conjugated linoleic acid has any major effect on energy expenditure in human beings. One recent study with humans supplementing with CLAs showed no change in basal metabolic rate or in body fat mass. Similar results have been reported in studies of obesity with human beings since this study. However, another trial with mostly healthy and only moderately overweight individuals consuming CLA as supplementation in yogurt did display higher basal metabolic rate. Unfortunately, however, there was no change in actual body weight for the participants. At the same time another 13 week trial showed an increase in resting metabolic rate and fat free mass but with no correlational results or effects on body fat mass. Other studies have shown decreased body weight along with an increase in fat oxidation and energy expenditure while sleeping. It is clear to see why more research with humans and conjugated linoleic acid is so important. It seems there are potentially huge benefits, but somewhere researchers are not finding exactly the ways to take advantage of these benefits in humans.
CLA - New "Miracle Weight Loss Pill"
WebMD has touted that CLA may be the new weight loss “miracle pill” for those who are looking to shed those extra pounds. Another study they examined had a group of women that lost an average of 9 percent body fat within a year’s time using conjugated linoleic acid supplementation. The study claims that these women did not change their lifestyle or eating habits, but it is not one hundred percent positive that there were not other confounding variables within this time. However, according to the study, it is likely that the CLAs had an overall effect on the weight loss in these women. The lead researcher from this study, Jean-Michael Gaullier Ph.D., believes the results are promising for the future of CLAs and weight loss. This was one of the first CLA studies to get unequivocal results, which is great, since so much of the previous research has been confusing and even contradictory, leaving many scientists, doctors, and researchers scratching their heads. This particular study can be found in June issue of The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition. There were no significant or huge changes in cholesterol levels or blood sugar levels with this study. However, there were some concerning results with slight changes in the levels and the potential risks for heart disease. This does not mean that research will not continue. Dr. Gaullier states that the changes in cholesterol and blood sugar were far from significant and he does not seem to be too worried about the health of the participants. This simply means that research with conjugated linoleic acid needs to be done in more depth. Perhaps there are other supplementations that can be added to avoid any changes in blood sugar levels and cholesterol levels. Cindy Moore, MS, RD, and director of nutritional therapy at The Cleveland Clinic agrees that this study warrants further research into the weight loss benefits of CLAs. She agrees that even with the potential risks, there may be a greater reward. And as with most medications and supplements there can be adverse effects that can be controlled with other supplements and/or medications. Time will tell what the future holds for CLA in the area of weight loss, but it seems to have a promising start with a promising future.
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