– the Elephant in the Room –

Dr. Al Danenberg Nutritional Periodontist

August 28, 2022 [printfriendly]

OXLAMS is an acronym for Oxidized Linoleic Acid Metabolites!

Wow. What a complicated term. What does it mean?[1]

  • It means bad stuff.
  • It means destructive byproducts of an element in the food which most of us eat every day.
  • It means metabolic dysfunction and mitochondrial dysfunction over time.
  • It means the elephant in the room that could be killing us slowly.

Humans have adjusted very slowly to a change in diet over the years of evolution. But the years of evolution have not kept up with the dramatic and rapid changes in the foods we eat. Some of these foods have inherent chemicals, which can slowly accumulate in our body. The slow accumulation of these unhealthy elements can and will be our downfall metabolically. And metabolic disease is the precursor to serious chronic diseases and cancers, which are prevalent in modern societies today.

One study published in 2019 suggests that 88% of the US population is metabolically unhealthy.[2] And in my opinion, that is an underestimation.

The more we educate ourselves of these toxic elements in our food system, the more we can take appropriate steps to prevent serious chronic diseases that become debilitating and life-threatening as we age.

The biggest problem is that some of these toxic elements do not cause any harm that is apparent in our body over a short period of time. Yet, the buildup of these toxic elements and the damage that they potentially create are serious concerns for all of us.

It is difficult to convince a person who is healthy today that the ingredients in the food they are enjoying now, can kill them decades down the road. A proactive individual who wants to improve his or her overall wellness must avoid these elements, which we don’t think about as a threat.


What are OXLAMS?

I wrote about linoleic acid in a previous blog. Linoleic acid (LA) is the precursor to oxidized linoleic acid metabolites (OXLAMS). OXLAMS in human plasma have been linked to pathological conditions such as chronic pain, obesity, Alzheimer’s dementia and neurodegenerative diseases, cardiovascular disease, non-alcoholic fatty liver, and mitochondrial dysfunction. Recent clinical studies have shown that lowering dietary linoleic acid can reduce the synthesis and/or accumulation of OXLAMS in circulation and in human tissues.[3] This paper describes and cites numerous peer-reviewed medical studies, which explain how excess linoleic acid and its oxidized forms are singularly damaging to the human body.


How do OXLAMS damage our body?

In the 20th Century in the United States, individuals more than tripled their consumption of linoleic acid from 2% of energy needs to 7%.[4] That coincided with a marked increase in fat tissue accumulation of linoleic acid.[5] Today, consumption of linoleic acid is up to 20% or more of energy needs.[6] And this linoleic acid remains in the fat tissues for an extended period.

The half-life of linoleic acid in adipose tissues is approximately two years.[7] Therefore, the gradual mobilization of LA from adipose stores into circulation will allow continued production of potentially destructive OXLAMS.

The energy producing machines in our cells are called mitochondria. The inner lining of the mitochondria is made of cardiolipin, which contains four fat molecules.[8]  The composition of these fat molecules is different for different tissue cells. When we eat too much LA, it bumps out the healthy fats in cardiolipin and replaces them. Then, LA oxidizes, forms OXLAMS, and kills the mitochondria.  This leads to mitochondrial dysfunction. No mitochondria – no energy.

Cancer cells are basically cells with damaged mitochondria. In animal studies, when linoleic acid is increased to between 4% and 10% of an experimental diet, these animals develop various types of cancer.

As linoleic acid is broken down into OXLAMS, cascading damage occurs. This is true for cancers, obesity, and most chronic diseases.

In addition, excess dietary LA increases the brain’s vulnerability to inflammation via the production of OXLAMS. In rodents, circulating LA readily crosses the blood brain barrier.[9] In humans, excess maternal LA intake has been linked to atypical neurodevelopment. It can be concluded that dietary LA may adversely affect the brain.[10]


What actions should we take?

There has been much discussion about the human diet’s ratio of omega-6 to omega-3 fatty acids. The prevailing wisdom, but a fundamentally flawed concept, is that we should increase our omega-3 levels to balance out this ratio and bring it to a healthier ratio of 1:1. However, the basic problem is too much omega-6 linoleic acid in our diet. We must avoid the excess levels of LA. The fact is that excess LA cannot be neutralized by the addition of omega-3 fatty acids.

Bottom line: we must stop eating the foods that are high in LA.

So, what should we eat?

My answer is to follow my Better Belly Blueprint.

Ideally, you would eat grass-fed beef and lamb with all their organs and animal fats, pastured eggs where the hens are not additionally fed soy or corn products, some raw honey, and a few seasonal fruits. You could include a very few plants that are low in antinutrients and linoleic acid.

Adhering to this way of eating, you will avoid grains, seeds, nuts, legumes, most vegetables, and especially vegetable and seed oils. Be careful with olive and avocado oils since they still have significant amounts of linoleic acid.

If you want to check a specific food for linoleic acid amounts, you can use the USDA Food Database.  Enter a chosen food, scroll down to the section labeled “polyunsaturated”, and check “PUFA 18:2” (i.e., linoleic acid).

You also could check out Self Nutrition Data. Enter your food choice and serving portion; then scroll down to “omega-6 fatty acid”.

You will be shocked at how many food items contain Linoleic Acid! Even if you aren’t following a Standard American Diet, you find these ingredients frequently in Keto and Paleo friendly products. I shared a graphic on social media last week with a guide – make sure to check it out and share with your loved ones!

My new book, Eat As If Your Life Depends On It, will be available on Amazon within a week or two. It will be available in paperback as well as hardcover. In my new book, I summarize the rationale for a paleo, keto, and carnivore diet as well as how and why I blended them into my Better Belly Blueprint way of eating. This is an interactive book in that it also includes an example of a completed three-day food journal as well as a blank three-day food journal for you to fill out yourself. In addition, I explain a method for you to transition slowly into the concepts of my Better Belly Blueprint over a period of nine weeks. Transitioning slowly will help you avoid most adaptation issues that could occur if you jumped 100% into a change in diet. You’ll be transformed into a well-nourished, energetic, cognitively alert individual. Also, you will enhance your immune system to become as robust as possible, which will assist in overall wellness.

[1] https://www.zeroacre.com/blog/linoleic-acid-facts

[2] https://www.liebertpub.com/doi/10.1089/met.2018.0105

[3] https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3467319/

[4] https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3076650/

[5] https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/9440371/

[6] https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4808858/

[7] https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/5900208/

[8] https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/24094094/

[9] https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/16920015/

[10] https://www.nature.com/articles/s41538-019-0061-9


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Metabolic Dysfunction
– An Epidemic With Huge Consequences! –

Dr. Al Danenberg Nutritional Periodontist

August 7, 2022 [printfriendly]


Many of us are metabolically unhealthy, and don’t even know it! Take me for example. 5 years ago, I thought I was the “senior poster boy for good health”! Yet, I still developed an incurable cancer. Now, research has given us more information than ever before about what the cause of life-threatening illnesses and chronic diseases might be.

Heed my warning:

We are a sick society plagued with metabolic dysfunction resulting in an epidemic of dental diseases and life-threatening chronic diseases.

Now, don’t worry. I’m not going to go all “doom and gloom” on you. With this knowledge comes power. Current science is pointing its finger to one element in our food that shares most of the blame for causing metabolic dysfunction. This blog will help you understand what to look out for, and how you have the unique opportunity to prevent debilitating chronic diseases.

To completely understand this, we need to answer 4 questions…

  1. What is metabolic dysfunction?
  2. How do I know we are a sick society?
  3. Why are we so sick?
  4. What can you do about it?


What Is Metabolic Dysfunction?

Metabolic dysfunction is the inability of the body to cycle in and out of burning fat and burning carbs efficiently for energy. Most people are addicted to processed carbohydrates and eating unhealthy fats. These individuals depend on a constant inflow of high carb and unhealthy fat meals and snacks. They also eat frequently to maintain their energy throughout the day.

Metabolic dysfunction can lead to metabolic syndrome. Metabolic syndrome is a combination of specific health conditions that often precede most serious chronic diseases like heart disease, stroke, cancer, Alzheimer’s disease, and diabetes to name a few. The symptoms of metabolic syndrome include elevated blood pressure, high blood sugar and fasting insulin levels, excess body fat around the waist, low levels of high-density lipoproteins (HDL), and high levels of triglyceride.


How Do I Know We Are A Sick Society?

The facts don’t lie …

  1. The United States is the highest spending country worldwide when it comes to health care.[1]
  2. The U.S. Health System ranks dead last among the 11 high-income countries in the world.[2]
  3. The first and close-second leading causes of death in the U.S. are heart disease and cancer, which are chronic, debilitating, yet preventable diseases.[3]
  4. The CDC (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention) stated that 60% of Americans live with at least one chronic disease, and chronic diseases are responsible for 70% of deaths each year in the United States. In addition, at least 72% of our society is overweight or obese.[4]
  5. In a 2019 issue of the journal, Metabolic Disorders and Related Disorders, a peer-reviewed study showed that 88% of the US population is metabolically unhealthy.[5]
  6. In 2010, a published paper demonstrated that 93.9% of adults in the United States had some form of gum inflammation (gingivitis).[6]
  7. In 2015, the CDC published their results in the Journal of Periodontology.[7] It showed the prevalence of severe periodontal disease (periodontitis) was estimated to be 47.2% for American adults. For adults 65 years old and older, the prevalence jumped to 70.1%.
  8. The CDC reported that approximately 91% of U.S. adults aged 20–64 had dental caries in permanent teeth.[8] The prevalence increases to 93% for those above 65 years old.[9]


Why Are We So Sick?  

The major culprit in metabolic dysfunction is our consumption of excess linoleic acid.

Linoleic acid (LA) is an 18-carbon polyunsaturated omega-6 fatty acid. It is the only essential omega-6 fatty acid and must be obtained from the diet. From linoleic acid, other omega-6s can be created by the body using various enzymes.

When we ingest high levels of linoleic acid, our body accumulates it, and serious damage occurs.

High concentrations of LA are found in all vegetable and seed oils. Also, specific vegetables, nuts and seeds, processed foods, most sauces and salad dressings, and animals like chicken and hogs that have been fed corn and soy products have high levels of LA.

Today’s eating lifestyles tend to be extremely high in omega-6 fatty acids and low in omega-3 fatty acids, causing an imbalance that leads to increased inflammation. While the healthiest ratio of omega-6 to omega-3 fat intake is 1:1, the Standard American Diet is around 15:1 or even higher.[10]

My friend, Paul Saladino, MD, speaks about the hazards of excess linoleic acid in our diet. He is shouting it out to tens of thousands of people who follow him.

Watch Dr. Saladino’s 25-minute video


Also, Joe Mercola has written extensively about the biological harm to our body from excess linoleic acid.

Read Dr. Mercola’s Full PDF


Linoleic acid can accumulate over time in the body to eventually set in motion serious chronic diseases which manifest years or decades later …

  • LA incorporates itself into the cell membranes of cells causing significant damage.
  • LA damages fat cells and their mitochondria.
  • LA is considered worse than sugar for your immune system and overall health.
  • Recent studies have shown that unsaturated fat intake is associated with increased mortality from COVID-19, while saturated fat intake lowers your risk of death.

Here’s one way that linoleic acid causes damage to the body:

Excess linoleic acid accumulates in the body’s fat cells. Inside the fat cells, LA breaks down into metabolites called OXLAMS (Oxidized linoleic acid metabolites). The OXLAMS damage the mitochondria in the fat cells. In turn, the fat cells stop normal cell division, and the fat cells begin to swell until they “burst”. In essence, we get “fatter”. When the swollen fat cell bursts, free fats are released into the circulation. After the swollen fat cells burst, they send out inflammatory chemicals which signals the rest of the body to become insulin resistant. All this leads to serious chronic diseases.


What Can You Do About It?

Beginning today, remove all excess linoleic acid from your diet. The first step is to avoid all vegetable and seed oils. Next, don’t eat nuts and seeds, which are high in linoleic acid. You also need to read the ingredients in packaged and processed foods where linoleic acid could be lurking.

Most of the foods you may eat in restaurants are loaded with linoleic acid hiding in the vegetable oils used for food preparation and in the sauces and salad dressings that are added to food.

By following my Better Belly Blueprint, you automatically will avoid excess and dangerous linoleic acid.

In my new book, Eat As If Your Life Depends On It, I described how and why I blended keto, paleo, and carnivore ways of eating into my Better Belly Blueprint. This way of eating is ideal for humans to survive and thrive. I also included a 3-Day Food Journal to help you document what you are eating currently so that you can make appropriate changes. In addition, I suggested a week-by-week method to transition into this eating lifestyle. I explained many of the physical changes that you might experience during the adaptation period as you transition into this healthier lifestyle as well as what you can do to avoid them.


Bringing It All Together

We now know that excess linoleic acid is a major factor that causes life-threatening chronic diseases. A prudent person today has the unique opportunity to prevent future debilitating chronic diseases, which currently plague most of the population.

I am here if you have questions. I offer virtual consultation appointments as well as a 12-Week Balanced Metabolic Coaching Program.

My new book, Eat As If Your Life Depends On It, will be available shortly. It also brings all these healthy concepts into one place with one ideal way of eating for the human species.


[1] https://www.statista.com/statistics/236541/per-capita-health-expenditure-by-country/

[2] https://www.webmd.com/health-insurance/news/20210804/us-health-system-ranks-last-among-11-high-income-countries

[3] https://www.cdc.gov/nchs/fastats/leading-causes-of-death.htm

[4] https://www.cdc.gov/chronicdisease/center/index.htm

[5] https://www.liebertpub.com/doi/10.1089/met.2018.0105

[6] https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/?term=20437720

[7] https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4460825/

[8] http://www.nidcr.nih.gov/DataStatistics/FindDataByTopic/DentalCaries/DentalCariesAdults20to64.htm

[9] http://www.nidcr.nih.gov/DataStatistics/FindDataByTopic/DentalCaries/DentalCariesSeniors65older.htm

[10] https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5611753/


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