Trans-vaccenic acid (TVA), a positional and geometric isomer of vaccenic acid, belongs to the family of trans fatty acids. Remember, though, trans fat comes in different forms... Unlike its synthetic, insidious, and notorious counterparts manufactured in labs to make processed foods last forever in your pantry, TVAs are trans fatty acids predominantly found in ruminant animal fats and dairy products. Its molecular structure includes a double bond, distinguishing it from other saturated fats. TVA has gained attention due to its potential health implications, notably its conversion into conjugated linoleic acid (CLA) within the human body.
TVA's creation happens in the rumen of ruminant animals, where it undergoes biohydrogenation, ultimately leading to the production of stearic acid, which can be found in abundance in our FUEL product, designed to enhance the absorption of fat soluble nutrients. Stearic acid is shown to aid in hormone balance and reduced body fat. Once ingested by humans, stearic acid can be converted into oleic acid, and subsequently, TVA trans fatty acids can be transformed into CLA. This conversion is facilitated by the action of desaturase enzymes, highlighting the dynamic nature of TVA's biochemical journey.
This dynamic biochemistry sets the stage for unraveling the potential health benefits of TVA.
The aforementioned biohydrogenation process in the rumen is orchestrated by various microorganisms, including bacteria and protozoa, leading to the transformation of unsaturated fatty acids, such as linoleic acid (LA), into TVA. This process is fundamental to the digestive physiology of ruminants, allowing them to metabolize dietary fats efficiently. Incidentally, LA from plants, that does not undergo this process, is shown to be a major endocrine disruptor and contributes to all sorts of unfavorable conditions.
CLA, a group of geometric and positional isomers of LA, is a product of TVA metabolism. Research indicates that CLA may exert anti-cancer effects through various mechanisms. In cell culture studies, CLA has been shown to modulate signaling pathways involved in cell proliferation and apoptosis, which can only occur in humans through the ingestion of TVA or through prolonged fasting. The creation of CLA at the molecular level involves the activation of peroxisome proliferator-activated receptors (PPARs) and inhibition of the mitogen-activated protein kinase (MAPK) pathway, influencing cellular responses.
Moreover, CLA has demonstrated immunomodulatory properties, influencing the body's immune response against cancer cells. Animal studies have provided insights into CLA's potential to inhibit tumor growth, particularly in breast cancer models. The intricacies of the relationship between TVA and CLA at the molecular level underscore the potential of these compounds as bioactive agents with implications for cancer prevention.
Dietary sources of TVA include meat and dairy products from ruminant animals. Beef, lamb, and full-fat dairy are the most notable contributors. The absorption of TVA in the human body involves incorporation into chylomicrons, which are lipoprotein particles that transport dietary fatty acids through the lymphatic and circulatory systems. Once absorbed, TVA undergoes metabolic transformations, including its conversion to stearic acid and subsequent incorporation into cellular membranes.
Understanding the absorption mechanisms provides insights into how dietary choices rich in TVA may influence the body's fatty acid profile, potentially impacting the synthesis of bioactive compounds such as CLA.
Scientific exploration of TVA's potential in cancer prevention involves a range of studies like this one done by the University of Chicago, from in vitro cell culture experiments to animal models and human epidemiological investigations. Cell culture studies have demonstrated that CLA derived from TVA may induce apoptosis in various cancer cell lines, including breast cancer cells. Animal studies have supported these findings, showing inhibitory effects on tumor growth. Again, apoptosis, which has been shown to help cancer patients in often dramatic ways, can only be achieved through this mechanism or fasting. The advantage of TVA induced apoptosis is that it helps ward off two of the most dangerous issues cancer patients face, which are sarcopenia (muscle loss) and osteopenia (bone loss).
Human studies, while more limited, have attempted to establish associations between TVA intake and cancer risk. Some epidemiological studies suggest that higher consumption of ruminant-derived trans fats may be associated with a lower risk of certain cancers. However, the evidence is not conclusive, and the complexity of dietary patterns and confounding variables necessitates careful interpretation. It has been shown that people with higher levels of TVA respond better to immunotherapy as TVA activates, and may even replicate, CD8+ T cells. These are the t cells that are our best defense against cancer cells. This enhanced cell funtion cannot be understated when it comes to fighting cancer.
The bioavailability of TVA, its metabolism in different tissues, and the potential interplay with other dietary components contribute to the complexity of understanding its health effects. Additionally, the role of TVA in modulating inflammation, oxidative stress, and lipid metabolism requires further exploration to comprehensively elucidate its impact on cancer prevention.
The exploration of TVA's health implications raises several questions and sparks controversies within the scientific community. One area of debate revolves around potential downsides to increased TVA intake. While some studies suggest a potential role in cancer prevention, others caution against the consumption of trans fats, due to their association with adverse cardiovascular outcomes. No studies have been done as to the difference between manufactured hydrogenated oils (trans fats) and TVA, which is a naturally occuring fatty acid that humans have been consuming forever. Cardiovascular issues and cancer incidence have risen dramatically since the advent of seed oils for consumption and manufactured trans fats, so it is unlikely, in our opinion, that a naturally occurring trans fatty acid like TVA would meaningfully contribute to these issues. Stearic acid is actually shown to lower triglyceride levels, and you already know what we think about blood cholesterol levels. In fact, it may be the reason that these issues were non-existent, or at least rare, in our ancestors, and are not evident in modern day cultures that primarily eat ruminants without processed foods. Red meat reigns supreme in these cultures. Coincidence?
The effects of TVA on different types of cancer also remain an area of uncertainty. Research has predominantly focused on breast cancer, and extrapolating findings to other cancer types requires careful consideration of the unique characteristics of each malignancy.
The interplay between TVA and other dietary factors further complicates the landscape. Understanding how TVA interacts with different dietary components and whether these interactions influence overall health outcomes is an ongoing area of investigation.
Practical implications of incorporating TVA into a healthy lifestyle involve making informed dietary choices. Grass-fed beef and full-fat dairy products from pasture-raised animals are excellent sources of TVA. Considering the potential synergies between TVA and other bioactive compounds, such as omega-3 fatty acids, may further enhance the overall health benefits of a diet rich in these components. Omega-3 fatty acids ratios, as compared to omega-6, are much higher in grass-fed, grass-finished meat than they are in grain-fed.
Balancing the benefits of TVA with broader nutritional strategies aligns with the pursuit of overall well-being. However, it is essential to recognize that while TVA may contribute to the synthesis of CLA, a more comprehensive approach to a healthy lifestyle includes diverse dietary components, regular physical activity, and other lifestyle factors, like avoiding modern cultural dangers, getting proper sleep, and not smoking.
Understanding the optimal dietary ratios of TVA to other fatty acids, exploring the impact of cooking methods on TVA content in foods (we suggest avoiding seed oils and cooking in stearic acid-rich foods like tallow and butter), and investigating the potential interactions with individual genetic profiles represent areas where further research is warranted. Moreover, the potential role of TVA in conditions beyond cancer, such as metabolic syndrome and neurodegenerative diseases, adds layers of complexity to its practical implications for health, especially considering that 9 of the 10 leading causes of death are attributed to lack of metabolic health… and as many as 85-90% of Americans are at least slightly metabolically unhealthy.
The journey through the enigmatic realm of trans-vaccenic acid reveals a compound with complex metabolic pathways and potential health implications. The conversion of TVA into CLA adds a layer of intricacy to its role in cancer prevention. While research has provided intriguing insights into the anti-cancer effects of CLA derived from TVA, the scientific landscape is dynamic and requires ongoing investigation.
Recognizing TVA as a nuanced player in human biology underscores the interconnectedness of dietary choices and health outcomes. Whether in the pursuit of athletic endeavors or a broader commitment to well-being, individuals can contemplate the potential benefits of TVA within the context of an animal-based diet.
As research continues to unravel the mysteries of trans-vaccenic acid, a cautious and informed approach to dietary choices remains paramount. The journey into the scientific depths of TVA exemplifies the continuous quest for understanding the intricate relationship between evolutionarily appropriate nutrition and human health.