Trans fats

Hydrogenated fats, which are also called trans fats are more harmful to health than saturated fat, therefore they should be completely excluded by people with IBD and IBS. Research has shown that trans fats may trigger inflammation and reduce natural body healing. They have been also linked to an increased risk of colon cancer.  Hydrogenated or trans fats are widely used in the food industry. These artificial fats are made when hydrogen gas reacts with oil. 

The human body has no need for these man-made fats. Their purpose is to allow for a longer shelf life for foods. Crackers, for example, can stay on the shelf and remain crispy for years in part because of the hydrogenated fats they contain. Trans fats are often found in margarine and shortening, snack foods and fast foods including biscuits, pastries, frosting, crisps, chips, cereals, crackers, and peanut butter. 

They are present in many foods labelled as "reduced fat", "low in saturated fat" or "low in cholesterol" and are used to prepare fried foods in some fast food and fish and chip shops

Advice: Avoid eating commercially prepared baked foods (cookies, pies, doughnuts, etc.), snack foods, and processed foods, including fast foods. To be on the safe side, assume that all such products may contain trans fats unless they are labelled otherwise. Unfortunately in the UK, there is no specific requirement for the trans fat content of products to be included on food labelling.

Trans fats have a ‘half-life’ of 52 days, meaning that if you eat food containing trans fat then 50% of the trans fat would still be in your body 52 days later!  Considering transit time for food in the human body is less than 24 hours, 52 days to deal with 50% of it is an extremely long time. So when you eat that bag of crisps or ice cream bar, part of it may still be with you more than 52  days later!

Why does this happen? The process used to create trans fats causes your body to view them as a foreign substance, not food.  If you eat a lot of potato chips or consume a lot of shortening, margarine or large quantities of preserved foods, you may accumulate these harmful trans fats. 

© Jonathan Wade 2014