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101 ways to eat cottage cheese

Q. What is CLA and what brand should I buy?

What is CLA?

CLA  (Conjugated Linoleic Acid) is a supplement, and does not require a prescription.  Conjugated linoleic acid (CLA) is a mixture of positional and geometric isomers of linoleic acid, which is found preferentially in dairy products and meat. Preliminary studies indicate that CLA is a powerful anticancer in the rat breast tumor model with an effective range of 0.1-1% in the diet.


Conjugated linoleic acid is unique because it is present in food from animal sources, and its anticancer efficacy is expressed at concentrations close to human consumption levels.


Simplified Explanation:

Dr. Michael Pariza, who conducted research on CLA with the University of Wisconsin-Madison, reported in August 2000 to the American Chemical Society that "It doesn't make a big fat cell get little. What it rather does is keep a little fat cell from getting big." Pariza's research did not find weight loss in his group of 71 overweight people, but what he did find was that when the dieters stopped dieting, and gained back weight, those taking CLA "were more likely to gain muscle and not fat.'' In a separate study conducted at Purdue University in Indiana, CLA was found to improve insulin levels in about two-thirds of diabetic patients, and moderately reduced the blood glucose level and triglyceride levels.


A pioneering Norwegian human study found that CLA-supplemented subjects lost up to 20% of their body fat in three months without changing their diet, while the control subjects on the average gained a slight amount of body fat during the same period.


Supposed Benefits of CLA:

  • Increases metabolic rate -- This would obviously be a positive benefit for thyroid patients, as hypothyroidism -- even when treated -- can reduce the metabolic rate in some people.
  • Decreases abdominal fat -- Adrenal imbalances and hormonal shifts that are common in thyroid patients frequently cause rapid accumulation of abdominal fat, so this benefit could be quite helpful.
  • Enhances muscle growth -- Muscle burns fat, which also contributes to increased metabolism, which is useful in weight loss and management.
  • Lowers cholesterol and triglycerides -- Since many thyroid patients have elevated cholesterol and triglyceride levels, even with treatment, this benefit can have an impact on a thyroid patient's health.
  • Lowers insulin resistance -- Insulin resistance is a risk for some hypothyroid patients, and lowering it can also help prevent adult-onset diabetes and make it easier to control weight.
  • Reduces food-induced allergic reactions -- Since food allergies can be at play when weight loss becomes difficult, this can be of help to thyroid patients.
  • Enhances immune system -- Since most cases of thyroid disease are autoimmune in nature, enhancing the immune system's ability to function properly is a positive benefit.
  • Possible anti-osteoporosis effects of CLA -- A study done at Purdue University showed that in various rat tissue cultures, including bone tissue, supplemental CLA (at 1% of diet) decreased the levels of omega-6 fatty acids and total monosaturated fatty acids, while increasing the concen trations of omega-3 fatty acids and saturated acids.  Since inflammatory compounds lead to bone loss, CLA might potentially be of use in preventing osteoporosis.


Since CLA is found in food we eat (just like creatine), why supplement?

A particularly rich source of CLA is melted cheddar cheese, yet most consumers prefer to obtain this fatty acid from low-cost CLA supplements that provide the exact isomers that have shown the greatest levels of protection against disease and obesity. Compared to the previous generations, Americans are probably deficient in CLA, because changes in cattle-feeding practices have decreased CLA content in meat and milk. For optimal CLA production, cows need to graze on grass rather than be artificially fattened in feed lots. The meat of grass-fed cows contains up to four times as much CLA. Today's dairy products have only about one third of the CLA content they used to have before 1960.


Does CLA Have Any Side Effects?

Some people report feeling slightly green or nauseous after taking their CLA, or isolated cases of gastrointestinal upset or loose stools. These side effects typically are reduced when the product is taken with protein (i.e.,with milk), and usually decrease after about 2 weeks taking the supplement.


What brand should I buy?:

CLA is available at health food stores, and at online outlets like Tonalin's patented formula for CLA can be found in a number of brands of CLA, including brands such as Natrol, Jarrow Formulas, and Nature's Way, among others. GNC stores also have some products with CLA, and Whole Foods Markets are also reported to have the products. The Tonalin site lists a variety of stores that sell products containing Tonalin CLA.


Experts recommend that you use a patented name brand, as some brands have inconsistent or insufficient amounts of CLA contained in them. The brand used in testing was "Tonalin" brand CLA, which comes in 1000 mg capsules. To obtain the level determined to be effective in the testing -- 3.4 g, or 3400 mg, per day -- you would need to take 4 of these capsules a day, with meals.


Take Away:

If you're interested in taking CLA to help with weight loss, keep in mind that it's not a magic pill, and you will need to start a program of diet and exercise in order to successfully lose weight and keep it off.




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