A cell’s first line of defense against disease is the cell membrane, the security wall that surrounds the cell and carries out many important functions. Healthy membranes, built from appropriate materials, protect cells from harmful invaders – including viruses. Malfunctioning membranes allow bacteria, viruses, toxins and other harmful substances to damage cells. The presence of poorly constructed cell membranes formed from poor diets is one of the biggest reasons that almost all Americans get sick.
The cell membrane controls everything that goes into and out of a cell. Making certain that only the right things go in and out of the cell is a critical and complex task that only can be accomplished when the cell membrane is constructed correctly. The membranes that surround each of the trillions of cells in your body are made mostly of fats and oils. Membranes constructed out of the wrong fats and oils do not function properly, which is a problem for most Americans. For example, diets with excessive amounts of saturated fats, which are rigid molecules, create rigid cell membranes that lack necessary elasticity. Catastrophic failures, such as ruptured blood vessels and torn muscles and tendons, can occur in tissues made from these rigid cells.
Cell membranes are made primarily of fatty molecules called phospholipids. Special kinds of oils called essential fatty acids (EFAs) – omega-3s and omega-6s – are used to create the phospholipids in cell membranes. These oils are essential because your body is unable to produce them; these oils must be obtained through diet. An overwhelming majority – some estimate as much as 90 percent – of the US population may be deficient in the correct assortment of essential fatty acids. When the correct raw materials are lacking, the body makes cell membranes out of whatever raw materials are available. These materials include the hydrogenated oils found in margarine, vegetable shortening, baked goods and breakfast cereals; the saturated fats from meat and dairy products; and the trans-fatty acids found in processed salad and cooking oils. Cell membranes built from these inappropriate fats and oils cause the membrane and the entire cell to malfunction.
For example, building a cell membrane from hydrogenated oils impairs the passage of oxygen into the cell, and oxygen-deficient cells become cancerous. None of us would build a house with cardboard walls. Why, then, do we build our cells membranes – our first line of defense against disease – out of junk materials like margarine, vegetable shortening and supermarket oils? Modern diets fail to supply adequate amounts of the correct essential fatty acids. I recommend supplementation with high-quality essential fatty acids and fish oils.
~ Never Be Sick Again, Raymond Francis, M.Sc.