TRANS FATTY ACID molecule has the same chemical formula as a “normal” fatty acid molecule, except for the fact that its hydrogen atom is in a different spatial arrangement. Technically, it is still an “unsaturated fat.” However, it behaves quite differently both in foods and in the body.
Essential fatty acids with a trans-configuration can no longer perform its critical function. These imposters can interfere with the formation of long chain omegas, increasing the body’s need for them and are basically misfits. The change in structure means that only half of it can fit into enzyme or membrane structure, taking up space and blocking out natural forms, thereby preventing the function of the essential fatty acids (known as cis molecules).
Cis and trans molecules each may have only one double bond, but their melting points are quite different. Cis molecules melt at 13°C (55°F) and are liquid at room and body temperatures. Trans molecules melt at 44°C (111°F) and are solid at room and body temperatures. Another difference is that the cis molecules are “non-sticky,” that is, able to disperse readily, while the trans molecules are “sticky,” able to clump together making platelets more likely.
As far as metabolism is concerned, the body prefers to use trans fatty acids only as energy-creating fuels. Trans molecules change cell membrane permiability impairing the protective barrier, increasing the likelihood of such foreign substances as allergens gaining entry. Cis fatty acids are conserved for use in cell membrane structure and prostaglandin formation. The rate at which the body is able to break down the trans molecules is much slower than for the cis. This is important pertaining to the heart, whose normal fuel is fatty acids. High trans fatty acids lowers its ability to perform. Increased activity, stress, or crisis is often met with dire consequences.
Because of the changes in shape, trans molecules cannot take up sulfur-rich proteins, oxygen, and light vital to body reactions, thereby short-circuiting the messages to do so. This interference is the result of “almost” fitting but not quite, similar to what happens when a spark plug in a car has too wide a gap. The body’s pattern flow is thrown off by molecules that have the wrong shape, size, and/or general properties that do not fit into structural arrangements of a particular design. Any molecule not normally part of the human biological/biochemical construction can do this whether it is a trans fatty acid molecule or any other synthetic or such foreign molecule as pesticides, chemicals, or drugs of any kind.
Diseases most certainly stem from altered molecular structure. For example, trans fatty acids can increase blood cholesterol levels by as much as 15% and blood fat levels by 47% very quickly, leading to atherosclerosis. When information is analyzed and compared to the increased incidences of cancer, it parallels the increase in consumption of hydrogenated fats. Research is showing that essential fatty acids inhibit cancer and that some cancers are actually a result of deficiencies of these acids.
Trans fatty acids disrupts the vital function of essential fatty acid designation of activity. They worsen the activity by interfering with enzyme systems that can transform fatty acids into unsaturated fatty acid derivatives found in concentrated forms in the brain, sense organs, adrenals, and testes. They also interfere with the production of prostaglandins that regulate muscle tone in the walls of the arteries, affecting blood pressure, kidney function, inflammation response, and immune system competences. Certainly, neither the brain nor the placenta are completely protected from the permiation of trans fatty acids.