It has a very significant role to play in regulating weight, inflammation and stress. Obesity is a sign of imbalance in the body’s energy management system and results in a wide range of regulatory problems.
We know that babies have brown fatty tissue and, because of those brown fat cells, new-born babies do not freeze when they emerge into the light of a comparatively cold world, compared to the warm environment of the maternal womb.
The brown fat cells generate energy in the form of warmth,
while the white fatty tissue acts as a regulatory interface.
According to the latest investigative studies, fatty tissue is a very dynamic construct. We adults also have brown fat and are able to activate it. In particular, the fat on the inside of the rib cage is brown.
Fatty tissue may also come in all the intermediate shades between brown and white. White fatty tissue consists of working cells which, as mentioned earlier, release a broad range of inflammatory and anti-inflammatory substances. In addition, these fat cells are an integral part of metabolic regulation. Energy created by the body is stored in the fat cells as fat. It may make us appear chubby over time, but is not the root of the evil. If we want to get to grips with the cause of our excess weight, we have to take another look at the regulatory processes which keep our body in balance and keep us alive.
Brown fatty tissue is highly active and creates a feeling of warmth inside us, even when we are outside in the freezing cold. I have tried this out myself in the cold of Iceland, and it works.
The brown colour comes from the many mitochondria densely packed into these cells but not linked to one another. They create warmth by oxidising (burning) fat and carbohydrates. The brown tissue thus helps us balance our energy metabolism. This fat-burning process, unlike the white fatty tissue, does not seem to influence the inflammation status of our body.
Breathing, fasting, ketones or the glucagon hormone activate brown fatty tissue
Research into this field is still in its infancy. For instance, we know little about how brown fatty tissue communicates with our muscular system and our liver – two organs equally crucial to the body’s energy management. However I mention this here, for it seems sensible to know that we adults benefit from brown fatty tissue and are also able to train it.
Breathing, fasting, ketones or the glucagon hormone activate brown fatty tissue. Insulin is the most important opposing hormone and when our metabolic regulation is almost constantly overloaded with nutrients, leads to insulin resistance, weight gain, obesity and other illnesses that thrive on chronic inflammation.