Interesting! Another good reason to exercise! Also of note- in reference to my last post about Hcg- the claim to fame of that diet is that it prevents muscle loss and ‘mobilizes’ ‘pathological brown fat’…. Hmmmm not so good, after all!!
Brown Fat, Triggered by Cold or Exercise, May Yield a Key to Weight Control
By GINA KOLATA
Published: January 24, 2012
Fat people have less than thin people. Older people have less than younger people. Men have less than younger women.
It is brown fat, actually brown in color, and its great appeal is that it burnscalories like a furnace. A new study finds that one form of it, which is turned on when people get cold, sucks fat out of the rest of the body to fuel itself. Another new study finds that a second form of brown fat can be created from ordinary white fat byexercise.
Of course, researchers say, they are not blind to the implications of their work. If they could turn on brown fat in people without putting them in cold rooms or making them exercise night and day, they might have a terrific weight loss treatment. And companies are getting to work.
But Dr. André Carpentier, an endocrinologist at the University of Sherbrooke in Quebec and lead author of one of the new papers, notes that much work lies ahead. It is entirely possible, for example, that people would be hungrier and eat more to make up for the calories their brown fat burns.
“We have proof that this tissue burns calories — yes, indeed it does,” Dr. Carpentier said. “But what happens over the long term is unknown.”
Until about three years ago, researchers thought brown fat was something found in rodents, which cannot shiver and use heat-generating brown fat as an alternate way to keep warm. Human infants also have it, for the same reason. But researchers expected that adults, who shiver, had no need for it and did not have it.
Then three groups, independently, reported that they had found brown fat in adults. They could see it in scans when subjects were kept in cold rooms, wearing light clothes like hospital gowns. The scans detected the fat by showing that it absorbed glucose.
There was not much brown fat, just a few ounces in the upper back, on the side of the neck, in the dip between the collarbone and the shoulder, and along the spine. Although mice and human babies have a lot more, and in different places, it seemed to be the same thing. So, generalizing from what they knew about mice, many researchers assumed the fat was burning calories.
But, notes Barbara Cannon, a researcher at Stockholm University, just because the brown fat in adults takes up glucose does not necessarily mean it burns calories.
“We did not know what the glucose actually did,” she said. “Glucose can be stored in our cells, but that does not mean that it can be combusted.”
A new paper in The Journal of Clinical Investigation by Dr. Carpentier and his colleagues answers that question and more. By doing a different type of scan, which shows the metabolism of fat, the group reports that brown fat can burn ordinary fat and that glucose is not a major source of fuel for these cells. When the cells run out of their own small repositories of fat, they suck fat out of the rest of the body.
In the study, the subjects — all men — were kept chilled, but not to the point of shivering, which itself burns calories. Their metabolic rates increased by 80 percent, all from the actions of a few ounces of cells. The brown fat also kept its subjects warm. The more brown fat a man had, the colder he could get before he started to shiver.
Brown fat, Dr. Carpentier and Jan Nedergaard, Dr. Cannon’s husband, wrote in an accompanying editorial, “is on fire.”
On average, Dr. Carpentier said, the brown fat burned about 250 calories over three hours.
But there is another type of brown fat. It has been harder to study because it often is interspersed in the white fat and does not occur in large masses. Investigators discovered it in mice years ago. Now, in a recent article, Bruce Spiegelman, professor of cell biology and medicine at the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute, and his colleagues report that, in mice at least, exercise can make it appear, by turning ordinary white fat brown.
When mice exercise, their muscle cells release a newly discovered hormone that the researchers named irisin. Irisin, in turn, converts white fat cells into brown ones. Those brown fat cells burn extra calories.
Dr. Spiegelman said the brown fat he studies is different from the type that appears in large, distinct masses in rodents, the type Dr. Carpentier was examining in his subjects. That brown fat is derived from musclelike cells and not from white fat.
Dr. Spiegelman suspects that humans, like mice, make brown fat from white fat when they exercise, because humans also have irisin in their blood. And human irisin is identical to mouse irisin.
“What I would guess is that this is likely to be the explanation for some of the effects of exercise,” Dr. Spiegelman says. The calories burned during exercise exceed the number actually used to do the work of exercising. That may be an effect of some white fat cells turning brown.
Many questions remain. The only brown fat that can be easily seen in people is the muscle-derived fat that shows up in scans. And that brown fat, notes Dr. C. Ronald Kahn, chief academic officer at the Joslin Diabetes Center in Boston, is visible in people only when it is turned on by making them cold.
Almost everyone of normal weight or below shows this brown fat if they are chilled, although individuals vary greatly in how much they have. But this brown fat almost never shows up in obese people. Is that one reason they are obese, or is their extra body fat keeping them so warm that there is no reason to turn on their brown fat?
There is also an intriguing relationship between the brown fat that emerges under the skin and the density of bone. Dr. Clifford Rosen, a professor of medicine at Tufts University School of Medicine in Boston, is studying mice that cannot make brown fat and was astonished by the state of their bones.
“The animals have the worst bone density we have ever seen,” Dr. Rosen said. “I see osteoporotic bones all the time,” he added, “but, oh my God, these are the extreme.”
And while exercise may induce brown fat in humans, it remains to be seen how important a source of calorie burning it is, researchers say.
As for deliberately making yourself cold if you want to lose weight, Dr. Carpentier said, “there is still a lot of research to do before this strategy can be exploited clinically and safely.”
This article has been revised to reflect the following correction:
Correction: January 24, 2012
An earlier version of this article misstated the academic affiliation of Dr. André Carpentier. He is at the University of Sherbrooke, not Laval University.
The first step in recovery is admitting that there is a problem…. The one thing this article doesn’t discuss is if the cravings will go away over time.. As with drug users, once the withdrawals are over it takes a good amount of time befo
Are You Addicted to Sugar?
Yes, it’s possible your sweet treat cravings could be a sign of sugar addiction. Here’s what you should know about the addiction — and whether it’s time to get help.
If you’re like many people, most nights after dinner, you get a craving for a little something sweet. But a chronic sweet tooth — an increasing problem for Americans, who are conditioned to crave sugar because of constant exposure from processed foods — isn’t just bad for your teeth or your waistline. More and more research links excessive sugar intake to serious health issues, includingtype 2 diabetes, blood pressure, stroke, and dementia.
So how much sugar is too much sugar? The amount your body can metabolize is slightly different for everyone, but the American Heart Association recommends no more than 6 teaspoons of added sugar a day for women — less than the amount of sugar in a single 12-ounce can of non-diet soda — and no more than 9 teaspoons a day for men. A 2009 survey by the American Heart Association found that adult Americans consume an average of 22 teaspoons of added sugar daily, mostly from soft drinks. You can calculate the number of teaspoons of sugar you’re getting per serving of a particular food or drink by taking the number of sugar grams in one serving as listed on the product’s nutritional label and dividing it by four.
A Sweet ‘Drug’ Habit
Once you’re in the habit of eating too much sugar, it becomes harder and harder to stop. “Sugar addiction is a real phenomenon,” says Nicole Avena, PhD, a food addiction researcher and assistant professor of neuroscience at Princeton University. “Research indicates that changes to brain chemicals after sugar consumption are similar to changes seen after drug use, and constantly overeating sugar leads to addiction andobesity.” Sugary foods and drinks activate the “reward” centers of the brain, which lead to more cravings for the sweet stuff.
The issue isn’t limited to obviously sweet snacks like candy and soda — it’s also the sugar added to processed foods that don’t even taste sweet, like ketchup and salad dressing, and also those found within white starchy foods like pasta and bread.
So how do you know if your hankering for sweets is harmless, or if you’re consuming an unhealthy — and possibly addictive — level of sugar?
Do You Have a Problem With Sugar?
Jacob Teitelbaum, MD, author of Beat Sugar Addiction NOW!, is an internist who studies sugar addiction and has identified four types of sugar addicts:
“Constant anxiety, fatigue, and constant sugar cravings are all signs of an addiction,” Dr. Teitelbaum says. “There’s no one amount of daily sugar that is a sign of sugar addiction, it all depends on whether a person feels poorly and exhibits the symptoms of the four types of sugar addicts. At that point, it’s time to figure out your addiction type and how you can treat it.”
If you’re constantly turning to sugar for an energy boost or craving a sweet treat, Teitelbaum says you can typically treat your addiction by drinking more water, eating a more balanced diet, eliminating soda, and sleeping more. Some addicts are triggered by stress, so identifying and eliminating the source of your stress is key. If you’re suffering from a hormonal imbalance, you might want to talk to your doctor about hormone therapy or supplements.
7 Ways to Control Your Sugar Cravings
Whether it’s bread and pasta or chocolate and cookies you crave, here are seven easy ways to take control of your sugar habit — and your health.
If you think your habit is out of control, take a step back, analyze how you feel, and figure out what’s at the root of your sugar cravings. One way to properly assess your sugar intake is by using a food journal such as My Calorie Counter that calculates the total amount of sugar you’re consuming. Once you’ve done that, Everyday Health nutritionist Kelly MacDonald, MS, RD, LDN, suggests a few easy adjustments that will help you survive the sugar season that begins at Halloween and continues through the end of the year — and help you keep your sugar intake (and the scale) in check year-round:
- “Psychoanalyze” your eating habits. Ask yourself why you’re reaching for carbs and soda. Do you really want the food itself, or is it an emotional response triggered by stress or habit? Eating carbs and sugar triggers the release of the feel-good brain chemical serotonin, which can make you think you want the sugar when what you really want are the calm, happy feelings it produces.
- Switch to whole grains. Compared to white bread and rice, the complex carbs in whole grains such as quinoa, brown rice, and oats are packed with filling fiber, which prevents the blood sugar spikes and dips that lead to sugar cravings. Eating whole grains has been linked to a lower diabetes risk and sustained weight loss over time.
- Reach for healthier sweet snacks. When sugar cravings hit, try to satisfy them with a healthier option such as whole fresh fruit or nonfat yogurt. Although both contain natural sugar, they also have other healthy nutrients like antioxidants, vitamins, protein, and fiber.
- Keep sugar out of the house. On Halloween, it’s tempting to fill up on candy for trick-or-treaters or leftovers from your kids’ loot. Avoid temptation by handing out non-sugar options to trick-or-treaters, such as school supplies, small toys, or small bags of nuts.
- Plan your meals. As holiday season begins, it’s hard to avoid sugar temptation. Plan ahead to make sure you’re not caught around the office cookie plate on an empty stomach. If you’re throwing or cooking for a holiday party, bring a fresh fruit salad instead of a pecan pie, for example. Chances are, there are other sugar-minded dieters at the party who will thank you for it.
- Be honest with yourself. The only way you’ll really stop or prevent a sugar addiction is to constantly keep yourself honest. Use a food journal to keep tabs on your diet. If you’re eating more sugar than usual or find yourself constantly battling cravings, add more fresh produce and whole grains.
- Stop after a few bites. Teitelbaum says a little dessert every night is fine, but the key is to limit the portion. Your taste buds are saturated with sugar after just a few bites, so it’s best to have a few spoonfuls of Ben and Jerry’s to satisfy your sweet tooth and put the rest back in the freezer.
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The Lancet, the premier British medical journal, said in an article entitled Chariots of Fries, that the Olympics should encourage physical activity, promote healthy living and inspire the next generation to exercise. "However, marring this healthy vision has been the choice of junk food and drink giants, - McDonald's, Coca-Cola and Cadbury's - as major sponsors."
"Health campaigners have rightly been dismayed.