Too much cholesterol and other body fat can lead to disease. However, our bodies need a certain amount of fat to function .”Fat is one of the most fascinating organs out there,” says Aaron Cypess, MD, Ph.D, an instructor of medicine at Harvard Medical School and a research associate at the Joslin Diabetes Center in Boston.
Plays a vital role in keeping our bodies running smoothly.
We store extra energy in body fat.
Keeps us warm and provides padding for our interior organs.
Secretes chemicals that play a role in appetite and helps to regulate menstrual cycles.
Act as messengers, helping proteins to do their jobs.
Start chemical reactions that help to control growth, immune function, reproduction and other aspects of basic metabolism.
Help the body stockpile certain nutrients as “fat-soluble” vitamins A, D, E, and K (stored in the liver and in fatty tissues).
It is a wonder organ but people do not seem to be very interested in fat except for how to lose it.
There are three types of fats:
White Fat : Stores energy until we need it. Fat right under the skin ,on the tummy, hips and thighs act as our insulator and cushion in addition to an energy storage unit.
Brown Fat : More prevalent in newborns helps them keep their body temperatures stable without shivering.
Visceral Fat : Fat we can not see, that should be of more concern. It is embedded deep within the abdomen, fills in the spaces between our organs and pumps out chemicals that can increase the risk of cardiovascular disease, hypertension, and diabetes.
Energy and Warmth
In 2012, scientists at the University of Sherbrooke published a study in which all men were exposed to cold temperatures. The brown fat burned up the white fat for energy and warmth.
In recent studies, scientists have found that lean people tend to have more brown fat than overweight or obese people which is why researchers are investigating if the lack of brown fat causes obesity or whether their extra white body fat prevents them from activating their brown fat.
Children have more brown fat than adults, and it is what helps them keep warm. Brown fat stores decline in adults but still help with warmth.
“Now we know they can sense temperature directly,” says,a lead researcher Bruce Spiegelman, a cell biologist at Harvard Medical School. All fat cells can sense temperature directly, and they respond to cold by releasing their energy as heat. The heating process depends on a protein called UCP1,and when researchers at Harvard Medical School exposed white, brown and “beige” (a mix of white and brown) samples of lab-grown human fat cells to cold temperatures, the amount of UCP1 proteins doubled in white and beige cells.
Role of Excercise
Researchers at the Lund University Diabetes Centre in Sweden found that exercise could play a role in switching on or off certain genes that have to with fat storage. Researchers sucked fat cells out of dozens of sedentary but healthy Swedish men and then subjected them to a six-month regimen of spinning or aerobics classes twice a week. At the end of the six months, the men had dropped weight and were healthier. But many of the genes in their fat cells had also been altered, some having to do with fat storage and the risks for developing obesity or diabetes.
Some obese people are metabolically healthy, while others have metabolic diseases such as diabetes, high blood pressure and high cholesterol levels. A new study in the journal Diabetologia suggested that the fat cells of unhealthy obese people look and act differently than the fat cells of healthy obese people. Instead of making new cells to store more fat, the original fat cells in unhealthy obese people swell to their breaking point. It leads to inflammation and fat storage on organs like the liver and heart. The fat cells in healthy obese people are smaller and make new fat cells when more fat needs to be stored.
Lack of sleep , can hurt your body fat’s ability to respond to insulin. It can lead to weight gain or diabetes down the road.
If you are a pear shape, most of your fat is subcutaneous. But if you are an apple shape, a larger portion of your fat is visceral. Aerobics and strength training, along with a healthy diet, can help control weight and visceral fat.