The other day, on Page 281 of The Big Fat Surprise by Nina Teicholz, I read about Acrolein. Which is a toxin made when vegetable oils are heated. The effects of it on mice sound disturbingly familiar to me “they suffered injuries to their gastrointestinal tracts as well as a whole-body response called “acute phase response”, a dramatic attempt by the body to avoid septic shock. Markers of inflammation and other signs of acute infection also went up dramatically”. I don’t like to think of my response to vegetable oils as ‘avoiding septic shock’ but I do have some severe gastrointestinal problems and what seems like intense inflammation whenever I come in contact with relatively minor doses.
Because I was interested, I looked up acrolein on Wikipedia and learned that the smell in burning fat and cigarettes apparently comes from this chemical which is made when glycerol burns and breaks down. It is also highly carcinogenic and toxic. It can kill a rat with 8 ppm in four hours. That sounds pretty toxic.
Aacrolein is only one of many toxins that come from heating vegetable oils. These toxins are known as HNE’s. So I then looked up HNE’s on Wikipedia. I read that HNE’s are made in the body just regularly from eating omega-6 and omega 3 fatty acids but that the body is fine with them in small amounts in fact they are “good” for you, however once the amounts of these HNE’s is higher than that, “around 10-20 micromolar” it seems to trigger well-known toxic pathways leading to cell death!
Apparently once HNE’s go bad they are really, really bad and are “possible causal agents of numerous diseases, such as chronic inflammation, neurodegenerative diseases, adult respiratory distress syndrome, atherogenesis, diabetes and different types of cancer.”
The news was not all gloom and doom however. Glutathione is an enzyme the body uses to specifically detoxify HNE’s from cells. This interested me because alpha lipoic acid is one of the supplements that I have found helps me most when I have been exposed to oils. It just so happens, that alpha lipoic acid helps to increase glutathione production in the body and unlike other antioxidants, functions in both water and fat.
So in two google searches I have managed to find some solid leads pointing to what in vegetable oils might be making me sick. So cool!