Conjugated linoleic acid or CLA is a combination of a variety of linoleic acids, but is primarily composed of geometric and position isomers. These are typically found in meats or dairy products and it can act as an anti-carcinogen, anti-oxidant and anti-catabolite while boosting the immune system. You can also consume additional conjugated linoleic acid to help build and retain lean muscle, burn fat and fight off cancer.
Benefits of Conjugated Linoleic Acid
There are plenty of benefits of conjugated linoleic acid including cancer prevention, rheumatoid arthritis management, heart protection, etc.
1. Decrease Cancer Risk
Recent studies have indicated that conjugated linoleic acid can help to decrease the development of prostate, breast and lung cancer cells. Non-human subjects that consumed .5-1.5 percent CLA saw a 32-56 percent decrease in the presence of malignant and benign tumors.
2. Increase Immune Function
Studies have indicated that those that consume CLA are less likely to develop the flu or colds because it reduced leukotrienes and prostaglandins in the body that suppress the immune system. Those with allergy symptoms saw similar improvements by increasing their intake of CLA because this acid blocks antibody releases.
3. Control Body Fat
Conjugated linoleic acid can reduce overall body fat mass while increasing lean body mass by improving sensitivity to insulin. Increasing this sensitivity can help to move fatty acids and glucose to muscle cells rather than fat tissue to provide the body with more energy and improve the metabolism.
4. Prevent Diabetes
Following a diabetic-friendly diet while simultaneously increasing the intake of conjugated linoleic acid can improve the body’s ability to move glucose into the cells to reduce overall insulin levels.
5. Manage Rheumatoid Arthritis
Some research indicates that the anti-inflammatory properties of CLA along with its ability to block immune agents such as cytokines or prostaglandin can help to reduce the appearance of inflammation and joint damage associated with rheumatoid arthritis.
6. Prevent Heart Disease
CLA helps to reduce LDL cholesterol deposits that can help to create plaque buildup that can cause hardening of the arteries. It can also help to prevent atherosclerosis which can increase your risk of embolism, heart attack and stroke.
Sources of Conjugated Linoleic Acid
As there are plenty of CLA benefits, it’s better to add it into your diet. You can find this great nutrition from both food and supplement.
1. Food Sources
Meats including ground turkey, beef, veal and lamb contain high amounts of CLA while trace amounts can be found in pork and chicken. Conjugated linoleic acid can also be found in Colby cheese, Swiss cheese, yogurt, homogenized milk, butter, sour cream, cottage cheese, pomegranate seed oil, white button mushrooms, sunflower and safflower oils.
2. Dietary Supplements
Taking supplements can help to ensure that the body has enough CLA in its system to have a physiological effect. Those using supplements should take between 3 and 5 grams daily, a dose that is often not possible by simply consuming foods high in conjugated linoleic acid.
Side Effects of Conjugated Linoleic Acid
Although consuming CLA has many health benefits, there are also side effects that you should pay attention to.
Consuming some forms of CLA has been found to cause high blood sugar by making the body more resistant to insulin.
2. High CRP
High C-reactive protein or CRP can be increased in the body while using conjugated linoleic acid. Increases in CRP are often a sign of additional health problems.
3. Low HDL
Overusing CLA can lower “good” cholesterol levels which can cause additional stress on the cardiovascular system.
4. Allergic Reactions
Some are allergic to conjugated linoleic acid, which can lead to itching, hives, unexplained rash, unexplained swelling, difficulty breathing, and difficulty swallowing or wheezing.
5. Gastrointestinal-Related Effects
Some that are taking conjugated linoleic acid may experience indigestion, diarrhea, nausea or loose stools.