Not all fat cells are of the "love handle" and "saddle bag" variety. Scientists have long known about two unique kinds of fat cells simply termed "brown" fat and "white" fat. When humans and other mammals are infants, we come packaged with a host of the brown fat cells you can think of as little energy burning furnaces. This brown fat is located primarily on the upper back and helps with body temperature regulation by releasing heat through chemical breakdown. White fat, on the other hand, is best thought of as a little Ziploc bag that locks in excess energy from past birthday cakes and prevents us from starving to death on Sundays when Chick-fil-A is closed.
Researchers have long been curious about whether brown fat cell stimulation could be used as a mechanism of fighting off the growing obesity problem and the associated health consequences of being over weight. We have known for some time that the prevalence of brown fat decreases as we age. However, recently scientists have discovered brown fat is still present in adulthood and that leaner people may tend to have more brown fat stores than obese individuals. The pertinent question remains whether there is a way to kick this fat back into high metabolic action.
Exciting news came from researchers at the University of Bonn who recently reported in the journal Nature that it may indeed be possible to both stimulate brown fat cells and "brown" white fat cells. This is exciting news for people who dream of a pill that literally burns calories while they sleep. Though a clinical application is still a long way off, the data does provide new understanding of how brown fat cells work and a potential line of plausible research for extracting its ability to fight obesity.
The question for you...is continuing to wait for a fat busting pill going to be your salvation from obesity? Maybe. But until they perfect this potent fat fighter let's focus on the litany of side effect free benefits provided by exercise, whole food nutrition, and other proven healthy lifestyle modifications. If you start today by the time the FDA approves the pill you will have already solved your own problem.
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