There has been a lot of discussion on the interwebs lately (2023) regarding the terms ‘cis’ and ‘trans’. For some reason, most of the debate is extremely emotionally charged, with an alarming absence of facts, reason or logic. It should not be emotional. ‘Cis’ and ‘Trans’ are actually very simple chemistry terms.
The most common application of cis and trans has always been in relation to unsaturated fats. Very basically, cis unsaturated fats are the normal, ‘healthy’, biologically useful unsaturated fats that are almost exclusively found in nature. Cis unsaturated fats are the natural fats that have been known for millennia to give life, health and joy. Think fats from God: nuts, fish, olive oil and avocados, for example. Pure. Natural. Wonderful.
Trans unsaturated fats, on the other hand are disgusting, screwed-up abominations, almost exclusively artificially engineered by corrupt, politically connected, giant corporations, and sneakily forced upon people without their consent. Trans unsaturated fats can be directly, causally linked to every miserable modern disease from horrible bodies to cancer to every type of psychological misery known. Trans unsaturated fats are almost entirely found in large quantities in the worst processed foods that everybody knows lead to disease and misery. Think the greasiest, most turgid, completely artificial, American-trans-national corporation manufactured fast food. Fake food so utterly disgusting that even bacteria will not go near it.
History of Trans Fats
Interestingly, trans unsaturated fats were originally promoted to the Western public as a virtuous, intelligent and more healthful alternative to saturated fats. At the time – in the early 1900’s – saturated fats had begun to be being blamed for causing heart disease, even though heart disease was responsible for less than 10% of deaths. So US corporate giant, Proctor and Gamble, commercialised the hydrogenation of unsaturated fats; the process by which trans-fats are engineered. The new fats took over the entire food industry. Seemingly everywhere people looked and everything they bought had trans-fat forced into it. The result of pushing the ignorant, ‘heart healthy’ trans-fats garbage onto Americans (and eventually the World) was heart disease soared from under 10%, to over 30% of deaths in just the first 2 decades of their release. In the next 50 years, heart disease kept increasing to almost 50% of deaths in America.
The natural, animal-based foods that had literally propelled the evolution of the human species from the apes were suddenly accused of causing ill health. Those fundamental foods, such as eggs and meat, that for centuries had been the most sought after sources of quality nutrition – conferring strength, virility and vitality to peoples all over the world – were being shunned in favour of dubiously coloured, excessively flavoured, shamelessly fake, malnourishing, processed garbage.
The result of pushing the world away from the wholesome, nutritious foods the human species had evolved to require, to eating fake, sugar and trans-fat soaked abominations, was epidemic levels of death, disease and misery. Depression, obesity, cancer, diabetes and heart disease have skyrocketed since the introduction of trans-fats, turbo-charging the damage caused by the hyper-sugarisation of the food supply. And all the people who correctly predicted the outcome were mercilessly mocked and silenced.
At this point it is probably important to get a very basic understanding of the chemistry of cis vs trans unsaturated fats. An unsaturated fatty acid refers to a fatty acid with a small piece missing. To cope with this missing piece, a normal, healthy cis unsaturated fat bends a little to support itself; at which point it is perfectly stable.
Trans unsaturated fats are only produced in large quantities by man-made force. Large corporations take normal, healthy, cis-unsaturated fats, and then relentlessly bludgeon them with promises of filling the missing part. However, far from filling the missing part, the process results in a twisted abomination that looks like a saturated fat, but is actually a mangled unsaturated fat. In other words, it looks like something that it clearly is not.
When trans-unsaturated fats enter the human body they wreak havoc. They tend to wind up in one of 2 places: stored as ugly bodyfat, or incorporated into cell membranes. When they are incorporated into cell membranes, they weaken the entire structure and cause other essential cell components to abandon the cell. With the regular presence of trans-fats, cells start to malfunction. Ultimately, the regular consumption of trans-fat poison winds up manifesting as anything from cancer or diabetes to cognitive or immune dysfunction.
When trans-fats are stored as bodyfat, we discover that they are seemingly even better at looking hideous than they are at poisoning functioning ecosystems. Unlike normal fat stored in fat cells, trans-fats are especially aggressive. They are seemingly unresponsive to otherwise effective and rational methods of being released and burned off. Trans-fat seems hell-bent on offending and aggravating your every reasonable effort to be rid of them.
There are rare instances of Trans unsaturated fats in nature; but they exist in only vanishingly small, trace amounts. Conjugated linoleic acid (CLA) is probably the most famous naturally occurring trans-fat, and is widely exalted and loved by athletes for its positive effects on metabolism. So nobody previously had an issue with the cis vs trans structural differences of fats. Nobody even cared.
But the Americans decided to engineer disgustingly monolithic quantities of toxic, fake, trans-fat garbage and stuff it into everything. The American Government and academia also got involved with lying to the public that this twisted poison was actually good. These days, the average American reportedly consumes over 2.5kg of pure trans unsaturated fat per year! They are even stuffing trans fats into baby formulas and seemingly focus on putting it into food products intended for children. So now there is a huge problem and people are fighting back.
Nearly 100 years after the big trans-fats movement was forced upon the public, the tide turned. Trans-fats are widely reviled as being sickly and dangerous; and rightly so. Even large, multi-national companies who once advertised the benefits of their fake unsaturated fats – like KFC and McDonalds – now proudly proclaim they have removed trans-fats from their products. Of course, at this point the damage is done; and far, far more sick, depraved, nutritional deviances have been incorporated into food products and nutritional advice “for your health”.
The motivations for the intense push for trans unsaturated fats by big corporations and Governments is highly dubious. The science upon which the arguments were based, where it did exist, was questionable at best, and utterly farcical at worst. But even ignoring the blatantly obvious corrupt financial interests and assuming the best of intentions, there is no question that the result of the world going trans was an unmitigated disaster, and a stern warning for the future. When big Governments, Universities, Scientists and Corporations are all pushing an agenda, it is probably going wind up very bad for you and me.