Life Extension Magazine April 2014

Report

Omega-7 Protects Against Metabolic Syndrome

By Carol Stockton

Omega-7 Protects Against Metabolic Syndrome  

Most people are aware of the wide-ranging benefits of omega-3 fatty acids, but you likely aren’t aware of a category of omega-7 fats that provide some unique health effects.

Scientists have recently uncovered a specific kind of omega-7 called palmitoleic acid. This newly discovered fat molecule is so important that Harvard Medical School has applied for a patent on it.1

What’s so special about this particular omega-7?

It powerfully addresses many of the underlying factors involved in metabolic syndrome.2-7 This feat would require multiple prescription drugs to achieve8—with potentially dangerous side effects. Omega-7 palmitoleic acid can safely do all this at a fraction of the cost.

Omega-7 can reduce risk of type II diabetes, prevent the buildup of atherosclerotic plaque, increase beneficial HDL and lower an inflammation marker called C-reactive protein, which is associated with an increased risk for heart attack and stroke.3,5,7,9

In these ways, omega-7 is able to powerfully—and affordably reduce risk of the negative consequences of metabolic syndrome—including heart disease, diabetes, cancer, and other life-threatening disorders.

What Is Palmitoleic Acid?

Palmitoleic acid is a member of the class called omega-7 fatty acids. Omega-7s include several different fatty acids. For the purposes of this article, when we refer to omega-7, we’re referring to palmitoleic acid.

Unlike the better known polyunsaturated omega-3s, omega-7s are monounsaturated fats.10 And while omega-3 fatty acids are beneficial largely because they become incorporated into anti-inflammatory molecules,11 omega-7s have an entirely different mechanism of action. Omega-7 fats function as signaling molecules that facilitate communication between fat and muscle tissue in your body.12

This special signaling function qualifies omega-7 to be identified as a unique lipokine—a hormone-like molecule that links distant body tissues to assure optimal energy utilization and storage.12

That’s what allows omega-7 to have broad-reaching effects on various factors of metabolic syndrome.2-7,13

Ingestion of just a small amount of omega-7 has a profound effect on the body’s response to energy intake, fat storage, and utilization, all of which are imbalanced in metabolic syndrome. Omega-7 suppresses the production of new fat molecules, especially those fats that damage tissue and raise cardiovascular risk.2,14

In fact, omega-7’s beneficial effects resemble those of many drugs (such as Lipitor®, Actos®, Lopid®, and others) commonly used by people with high cholesterol and/or high blood sugar, major elements of metabolic syndrome that increase the risk of cardiovascular disease.

Omega-7 Fights The Factors Of Metabolic Syndrome

Omega-7 Fights The Factors Of Metabolic Syndrome  

As medically defined, metabolic syndrome, a major contributor to cardiovascular disease risk and type II diabetes, consists of:15-17

  1. Elevated glucose and insulin resistance.
  2. Lipid disturbances (high triglycerides and low HDL cholesterol).
  3. High blood pressure.
  4. Central obesity (“apple shape”).
  5. Chronic inflammation.

Even though chronic inflammation is not technically a criterion for metabolic syndrome, it is widely recognized as a fifth major pathological contributor to the condition.15,17,18

How Drugs Stack Up Next to Omega-7 Palmitoleic Acid In Metabolic Syndrome2-7,23,31,35-54

Metabolic Syndrome Parameter

Statins (Lipitor® and others)

Fibrates (Lopid® and others)

Glitazones (Actos® and others)

Sulfonylureas (Glipizide® and others)

Omega-7 Palmitoleic Acid

LDL (“bad” cholesterol)

Reduce

Reduce

Increase

No effect

Reduce

HDL (“good” cholesterol)

Little effect- may even decrease

Increase

Increase

Decrease

Increase

Blood sugar

May increase

No effect

Reduce

Reduce (but increase insulin)

Reduce

Insulin resistance

May worsen

No effect

Reduce

May improve

Reduce

Body weight/composition

Increase weight, decrease fat-free mass

May increase weight and fat mass

Decrease fat

Increase

Reduce appetite

Inflammation

May reduce

May reduce

Reduce

No effect

Reduce

Side effects

Muscle pain (myalgia), may increase risk of diabetes

Gallstones, muscle pain

May increase risk of cardiovascular death

Increased risk of cardiovascular death

None known

If you have metabolic syndrome, it means you are already well along the road to heart disease, diabetes, cancer, and other life-threatening disorders.16 Fortunately, omega-7 works in five distinct and complementary ways to reduce most of metabolic syndrome’s harmful effects on your health:

  1. It reduces insulin resistance and lowers blood glucose.3,4
  2. It suppresses fat production and accumulation.2,3
  3. It normalizes abnormal lipid profiles (including raising beneficial HDL-cholesterol).3,5-7
  4. It fights obesity.3,13
  5. It powerfully suppresses the inflammation that drives metabolic syndrome.3,7

We will break down each of the factors one at a time in order to see how omega-7 addresses the various contributing factors involved in metabolic syndrome, ultimately reducing risk of cardiovascular disease, diabetes, cancer, and more.

What You Need to Know
Guard Against Metabolic Disturbances With Omega-7

Guard Against Metabolic Disturbances With Omega-7

  • A new healthy fatty acid, omega-7 palmitoleic acid, has joined the ranks of omega-3 fats in protecting your body from the dreaded metabolic syndrome.
  • Adding omega-7 to your supplement regimen can help your body mitigate many of the components of metabolic syndrome, including high LDL and low HDL cholesterol, high glucose and insulin resistance, obesity, and even the inflammation that drives the syndrome.
  • Big Pharma has at least four categories of drugs to treat metabolic syndrome, but these carry various side effect profiles and can interact negatively with one another.
  • Omega-7 may help you reduce the burden of metabolic syndrome in your own body.
  • Add omega-7 palmitoleic acid to your omega-3 regimen today to optimize your cardiovascular and metabolic health.

Omega-7 Fights Inflammation

There’s a close connection between fat tissue and the chronic, low-grade inflammation that’s associated with metabolic syndrome.17-19 The connection may be related to an enzyme known as SCD1 (stearoyl-CoA desaturase 1).

When scientists remove SCD1 activity in lab animals, their levels of fat tissue inflammation fall sharply, and their ability to respond to insulin (insulin sensitivity) rises.20 In the lab, adding omega-7 to cultures of fat cells triggers these same benefits by suppressing SCD1 activity.2

Animal studies show significantly reduced levels of fat-related inflammatory cytokines (signaling molecules) following administration of omega-7.3 And the livers of supplemented animals show significant reductions in the number of activated inflammatory cells, an effect that may help prevent fatty liver disease.21 Many of these beneficial anti-inflammatory effects may arise from the ability of omega-7 to deactivate the master inflammatory regulation complex called NF-kappaB.21

There’s now impressive human data on how omega-7 can lower inflammation and reduce the resulting cardiovascular risk. In a pilot trial of adults with high levels of C-reactive protein (blood marker of inflammation), supplementation with 210 mg a day of omega-7 resulted in a robust 73% decrease of C-reactive protein.6

Those results were extended in a larger, randomized clinical trial, in which all patients had abnormally high CRP levels (greater than 3 mg/dL). In this study, 30 days of supplementation with 210 mg/day of palmitoleic acid resulted in a significant drop in CRP of 1.9 mg/dL — that’s a 43% reduction in a dangerous cardiovascular risk marker. Moreover, by the end of the supplementation period, the average CRP level was reduced from greater than 4 mg/dL to 2.1 mg/dL.7 The health ramifications of this marked reduction in C-reactive protein are profound, especially in abdominally-obese individuals who often exhibit dangerously elevated levels of this inflammatory indicator (CRP).

Omega-7 Lowers Glucose And Insulin Resistance

Omega-7 has multiple beneficial effects on blood sugar and insulin. Researchers discovered that when mice with type II diabetes were supplemented with omega-7, they had lower blood glucose and triglyceride levels. 3 At the same time, their insulin resistance and liver fat deposits were significantly reduced. Liver fat deposition is a key factor in metabolic syndrome, and is a leading cause of non-alcoholic fatty liver disease, or NAFLD.3 These animals also experienced decreases in diabetes-related weight gain, and reduced levels of inflammatory cytokines.

Omega-7 produces these encouraging results because it attacks multiple underlying mechanisms responsible for type II diabetes/insulin resistance.

In metabolic syndrome as well as in type II diabetes, the body’s cells become resistant to the sugar-lowering effects of insulin. This results in rising sugar levels, and also rising levels of insulin, both of which are toxic in large quantities. Omega-7 counteracts this by doubling glucose uptake by muscle cells, increasing their ability to burn sugar for energy and store it in quick-release, non-toxic glycogen.22

What happens next is that when your body’s cells become resistant to the sugar-lowering effects of insulin, blood sugar will eventually rise. Pancreatic cells that produce insulin are among the casualties of high glucose, eventually resulting in still higher sugar levels and worse tissue damage.23 Omega-7 protects the insulin-producing cells of the pancreas from glucose-induced toxicity; in fact, omega-7 enhances proliferation of pancreatic beta cells, helping your body optimize blood sugar control with its own natural insulin.24

Omega-7 levels strongly predict insulin sensitivity: One’s odds of having beneficially high insulin sensitivity rise dramatically as their blood omega-7 levels rise.4

All Omega-7 Sources Are Not The Same
All Omega-7 Sources Are Not The Same

While you can get omega-7 palmitoleic acid from some natural sources, such as macadamia nuts and sea buckthorn, it’s important that you be aware that these foods also contain very high levels of palmitic acid. Palmitic acid is a thick, gooey palm oil.

Palmitic acid consumption raises the risk of heart attack, stroke, and other cardiovascular catastrophes by increasing arterial stiffness, triggering abnormal platelet clumping, and raising dangerous LDL cholesterol levels.55-57

Sea buckthorn and macadamia oils typically contain around 11 to 27% omega-7 (which is good) but they also contain around 9 to 40% palmitic acid, which can largely negate the benefits of the omega-7.58,59

That’s why it’s vital that you use an omega-7 product that is purified to reduce the palmitic acid concentration to less than 1%, and also ideally concentrated to raise the omega-7 content to near 50%.

Life Extension Magazine April 2014

Report

Omega-7 Protects Against Metabolic Syndrome

By Carol Stockton

Palmitoleic Acid Improves Arterial Health

Omega-7’s ability to raise HDL and lower LDL—while also supporting endothelial function—make it extremely beneficial for cardiovascular health.

Studies show that omega-7 improves lipid balance by favorably regulating fat production within fat cells, while regulating fat burning.2 That means less fat deposition—and lower levels of fat and triglycerides in blood and liver tissue.3,25

In a lab study done at the Cleveland Clinic, omega-7 supplementation increased beneficial HDL after just 8 to 12 weeks (something statin drugs are not very good at doing).5,26,27 In the same study, the reduction in the size of atherosclerotic plaque in the aorta was 47% lower in the group receiving omega-7 supplementation.5

Omega-7 levels have also been shown to be powerful predictors of the all-important endothelial function, the control of blood flow and pressure by the inner lining, or endothelium, of blood vessels.28

Palmitoleic Acid Improves Arterial Health  

These beneficial effects on cholesterol were demonstrated by a study using macadamia nuts and sea buckthorn, two substances that are known for their high omega-7 content. Studies show that after just three weeks of eating macadamia nuts every day, healthy young women had reductions in total and LDL cholesterol, body weight, and body mass index (BMI).29 And in men with high cholesterol, 1 to 3 ounces per day of these fat-containing nuts produced reductions in atherosclerosis risk factors such as markers of inflammation and oxidative stress.30

These studies may have shown greater effects had the subjects used a purified omega-7 palmitoleic acid supplement instead of the high-fat macadamia nuts, which are also rich in dangerous palmitic acid.

In a study of patients with stubbornly high lipid levels, a purified omega-7 supplement (840 mg/day) produced modest lipid reductions. LDL fell by 7.6% (from 118 to 109 mg/dL) while non-HDL cholesterol* was reduced by 8.2% (from 147 to 135 mg/dL).6 Patients with the highest levels of baseline triglycerides saw their total cholesterol and triglyceride levels drop by as much as 30%.6

* (Non-HDL cholesterol is gaining increasing importance as a risk marker for cardiovascular outcomes.6 It is calculated as total cholesterol minus HDL cholesterol.)

What makes that study remarkable is that most participants were already taking statin or fibrate drugs, yet still had high lipid levels.25 This showed that adding omega-7 to these drugs produced additional benefits, lowering cholesterol and triglycerides where prescription drugs couldn’t.

In a subsequent controlled clinical trial, patients taking purified omega-7 palmitoleic acid at a lower dose (210 mg/day) had improvements in lipid levels after 30 days of supplementation: triglycerides dropped by 36.9 mg/dL (17%), LDL by 13.5 mg/dL (11%), and beneficial HDL rose by 4.5 mg/dL (10%).7

Omega-7 Helps Manage Body Weight

The reason central or abdominal obesity (“apple shape”) is a factor in metabolic syndrome is because it has such strong associations with cardiovascular disease risk.31 This is due, in large part, to the increased inflammation produced by fat tissue.17-19

Omega-7s help manage this factor of metabolic syndrome because they signal your body to stop storing fat.2,3

Animals fed diets rich in omega-7 show significant increases in stomach and intestinal hormones that promote the feeling of fullness (satiety).13 At the same time, such diets produce decreases in hunger-promoting hormones.32 The combined effect is a significant reduction in food intake.

Several statin drugs, while lowering cholesterol and triglycerides, also produce increases in body and liver fat deposition.33 Omega-7s do just the opposite. Omega-7 reduces the production of fat in the liver.3 Increases in liver fat can result in non-alcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD), which is considered a major manifestation of the metabolic syndrome—and which can eventually lead to liver failure and even cancer.34

Summary

Research has shown that omega-7 has beneficial effects on a majority of the pathological components of metabolic syndrome.

It improves insulin sensitivity, lowers LDL-cholesterol-triglycerides, and raises beneficial HDL.3,5,22,24,29 It helps manage body weight by promoting fullness-inducing hormones and dissipating hunger-producing hormones.13,32 Perhaps most important of all, omega-7 acts in a unique fashion to stop the inflammation that forms the link between the metabolic syndrome and its life-shortening consequences.3,21

By beneficially influencing these deadly pathological factors, omega-7 can dramatically improve cardiovascular and metabolic health.

If you have any questions on the scientific content of this article, please call a Life Extension® Health Advisor at 1-866-864-3027.

References

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