Most people think that if we eat fatty foods and do not exercise then we’ll get fat because those excess calories would find their way under our skin and continue to build up and make us look pudgy. That’s certainly a simple way of explaining it. Whoever wants to hear technical terms and foreign-sounding processes right?
However, a new development may necessitate that we know a little bit more about how excess calories get stored up in our body so that we can take advantage of this new weight loss strategy. Don’t worry, this article may prove a bit technical, but it won’t go so far as to make this sound like a thesis paper.
White or Brown? and I’m Not Talking about Sugar…
In simplest terms, we become fat because we eat stuff that makes our fat cells bigger. Here’s a good article about how fat cells work that you might want to check out if you want to go into details.
Like I said, we are going a bit technical but not that too technical. Of the complicated process that is fat metabolism and storage, we only need to concern ourselves with what they call the adipose tissues (commonly known as body fat). And among adipose tissues, we only need to know that we have white adipose tissues and we have brown adipose tissues. The difference between the two is the important bit that you need to know.
Brown adipose tissues burn up calories, and white adipose tissues stores it. White adipose tissues are what cause fat build-up which makes us look big and leads to obesity. Brown adipose tissues, on the other hand, helps burn down and reduce the amount of fat in our body. It goes without saying that we need more brown adipose tissue activity vs. white adipose tissue activity.
Photo Credit: deltagen.com
The Problem with Brown and The Solution…
It seems that brown adipose tissues can really do wonders and be the cure for obesity. However, the problem with brown adipose tissues is that they are more prominent when we are infants. The purpose is to keep babies warm by using stored calories to produce heat. As we grow older, brown adipose tissues get less prominent (although not totally gone) while white adipose tissues develop in abundance.
The obvious solution is to increase the activity of these brown adipose tissues so that they would be able to burn more fat. That is what exactly scientists are starting to unravel.
A group of scientists, hailing from a wide range of prestigious institutions from University of Cambridge to University of Iowa, released this paper describing an experiment on a particular protein that can increase brown adipose tissue activity.
The study experimented on mice and found that a particular protein, BMP8B, can specifically regulate the heat producing activity of brown adipose tissues.
Previously, a protein called PRDM16 was thought to be able to manipulate brown adipose tissues. However, what PRDM16 does is actually genetically change white adipose tissues into brown adipose tissues (that’s not healthy; we do need white adipose tissues in our body). On top of that, an increase in PRDM16 proteins can have an effect on other parts of the body.
BMP8B doesn’t seem to have that problem, at least for the mice. The BMP8B protein seems to be the more promising weight loss solution. All it needs is more testing and proceed to human trials. It may take a while but the progress looks promising.
Up until weight loss via BMP8B proves to be viable however, we are still relegated to proper exercising and dieting.