CLA (Conjugated Linoleic Acid) – What You Need To Know
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Many of us associate fats with negative health effects and issues. While it is justifiable to place an equal sign between certain health issues and certain fats, there is a group of fats that should not be seen as harmful.
These fats are the ones we can call healthy fats. Since there is a difference between the ways fats are created, there is also a difference between the ways the body uses them.
Some fats will be turned into energy whereas others have several health benefits. This second group includes the so-called CLA (Conjugated Linoleic Acid), a fatty acid appreciated for its important health effects and the topic of our today’s post.
CLA (Conjugated Linoleic Acid) – What is it?
This type of polyunsaturated fatty acid is a natural trans fat that is to be found in many healthy foods as well as dairy and beef. Trans fats form when rumen bacteria in the stomachs of ruminant animals like sheep and cows digest the grass they’ve eaten. Since it is a naturally occurring trans fat, unlike the industrial ones, CLA has been the topic of several studies. The conclusion? Our health can only benefit from this natural fatty acid.
Then there are the CLA supplements, considered to be among the most effective and popular weight loss supplements that won’t just reduce your number of pounds but will also help your overall health in different ways.
How Does CLA Work?
CLA and its health benefits have triggered the attention of scientists especially in the last three decades ago. The first study on the biological activity of Conjugated Linoleic Acid reached the conclusion that this fatty acid could have positive results in fighting cancer in mice.
Gradually, Conjugated Linoleic Acid has been studied in order to discover any health benefits it could have in humans and several studies have shown that it could reduce body fat levels. Thus, CLA has been said to reduce food intake, inhibit fat production, stimulate the breakdown of fat and increase the fat burning process.
CLA is probably the most popular and most studied weight loss supplement. Many of these randomized controlled trials link CLA to human fat loss, body composition improvement, and even muscle mass increase (studies).
Then there are studies that found no connection between the use of CLA and weight loss or that could identify only a moderate body weight reduction during its use.
CLA is to be found in its natural form in dairy and fatty meat. Again, studies found that people who have CLA from such foods enjoy a lower risk when it comes to conditions like type 2 diabetes and cancer.
There is insufficient evidence regarding the connection between CLA and allergies, asthma, breast, colon and rectal cancer, or rheumatoid arthritis. There has been a small number of cases when the use of CLA helped, even if slightly, and studies concerning these particular health issues are conflicting.
Therefore, further studies are needed before knowing precisely how Conjugated Linoleic Acid helps one’s health and what conditions can be improved using it. Keep in mind that a visit to your doctor is the thing to do before taking any supplement.
CLA Side Effects
Just like all supplements, the ones containing artificial CLA are the focus of many questions regarding side effects. Unfortunately, CLA supplements are linked to certain side effects.
When consumed in its natural form from foods like the ones mentioned above, CLA has several health benefits but when taken in the form of supplements, in which the industrial fats have slightly different chemical structures, and in high doses, it can become harmful.
Although we talk about minor differences between natural and industrial trans fats, the effects the artificial fats can lead to in our body are major. One such side effect is an increase in the fat accumulation in the liver which can then lead to further health issues like diabetes and the metabolic syndrome.
Then, other studies have linked Conjugated Linoleic Acid to an increase in inflammation, lower HDL, and insulin resistance. Some individuals participating in the study have experienced mild side effects such as stomach pain, diarrhea, flatulence, and nausea.
Safe CLA Dosage
The doses usually used in studies range from 3.2 to 6.4 grams a day. Now, there is a general rule that most things that come in high doses increase the risk of side effects. Commit that to your mind and, just like with any other supplements, make sure you always see and consult your doctor before embarking upon any self-prescribed and administered supplement.
Depending on your health history and conditions, your health care provider will decide the supplements you should take and the recommended doses. Your doctor can also recommend you to get blood tests on a regular basis in order to keep an eye on different metabolic markers as well as your liver function.
CLA is to be found among the supplements FDA allows to be added to your diet and is accompanied by the so-called GRAS status (Generally Regarded as Safe).
There are certain combinations that include Conjugated Linoleic Acid and that can help with certain health conditions. For instance, CLA along with ramipril seems to reduce high blood pressure in individuals with uncontrolled high blood pressure.
CLA – Final Thoughts
Although CLA supplements have received positive grades in several studies, we should not forget that a supplement is, after all, a supplement. There are many natural and healthy ways to help you reduce your weight.
Usually, depending on your health conditions, healthy eating and a balanced diet including fruits, vegetables and little-processed food, enough water, and regular workouts should help you reduce your body weight.
Sometimes, the cause of your extra pounds might be related to some health issue. That’s why, before starting a diet, you should see your health care specialist, have some tests, identify health problems (if any) and get a custom diet.
Remember that what works for some people, might prove useless in your case. Plus, reducing your weight is not worth the risk of liver fat increase, metabolic issues or other side effects.