Not just in dream land. In your body – seriously.
Brown fat cells do spontaneous combustion
Science has known about the phenomenon of brown fat cells for years. Brown fat cells exist to BURN fat, unlike their paler cousins, the white fat cell which exists to STORE fat.
But up until a year or two ago, it was thought that brown fat cells were something small children were empowered with. Little ones needed these heat generating cells to keep warm. But since adults seemed to outgrow the necessity for cellular heaters, it was thought the equipment was discarded because it became redundant.
Mining for brown fat cells
Using molecular markers researchers have found patches of brown fat in the area extending from the front of the neck to the chest. But, this is not the only location. Deep in the subterranean fat deposits, interspersed between our fat storing white fat cells, like proverbial needles in the hay stack, are brown fat cells.
Wohoo ! The fat burning machines are still there. Albeit they are pretty thin on the ground under normal circumstance. We all have them – some of us have a few more than others.
Switching on fat combustion
As a rule of thumb, as white fat cell numbers rise, brown fat cell numbers drop i.e. fat people have fewer brown fat cells.
This can be viewed as a problem or an opportunity.
Brown fat cells are fat burning machines. They burn lots and lots of calories in the process giving off heat. A switched on brown fat cell, could quickly burn through the fat stored inside those white fat cells.
So is there a way of increasing brown fat cell numbers ?
The brown fat cell switch on
It can be done – in a petri dish.
Cells that are wired to become fat cells – are able to become either white or brown fat cells.
The “baby” fat cells, officially called pre-adipocytes, make a choice. At this stage we don’t know how they decide.
Looking for the switch
Sub-arctic temperatures are probably one driver. But what else ?
The hunt is on to find the environmental and chemical signals that will help usher in a fat cell cultural revolution.
Mandla ! Mandla ! Brown fat cells rule !Calorie-burning brown fat is a potential obesity treatment, researchers say press release from The Endocrine Society.
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