Science 3 min read

New Study Suggests Brown Fat May Be Good For Our Health

Researchers at Rutgers University revealed that brown fat could also serve as an effective treatment for diabetes and obesity.

Image courtesy of Shutterstuck

Image courtesy of Shutterstuck

According to the researchers at Rutgers University, brown fat, also known as brown adipose tissue, may protect us from diabetes and obesity. In their paper in the journal Nature, the scientists explored the role of brown fat in human health and how it could lead to new type 2 diabetes and obesity medications.

Brown fat is a heat organ that exists in various areas of the body, including the spinal cord, neck, collarbone, and kidney. It becomes activated as the temperature drops and uses the blood fat and sugar to generate heat for the body.

But, the Rutgers study discovered that the brown adipose tissue might be doing more than generating heat.

According to the researchers, brown fat can also filter and remove branched-chain amino acids (BCAAs) from the blood. In that way, it could serve as an effective treatment for diabetes and obesity.

How is this possible, you ask?

How Brown Fat Can Protect Us From Diabetes and Obesity

Foods such as meat, chicken, eggs, fish, and milk contain BCAAs – leucine, isoleucine, and valine. It also exists in supplements used by people who want to build muscle mass, including athletes.

While these amino acids are essential for good health under average concentration, an excessive amount is linked with obesity and diabetes.

The researchers noted that people with a small amount or no brown fat have a reduced ability to remove BCAAs from their blood. As a result, they have a higher risk of developing diabetes or obesity.

Also, the study addresses one of the oldest mystery about brown fat.

For almost 20 years, scientists have been trying to understand how BCAAs enter the mitochondria to generate energy and heat in cells. Well, according to the Rutgers team, a novel protein called SLC25A44 controls the rate at which brown fat converts the blood’s amino acid into heat and energy.

In a statement, co-author of the study and professor in the Department of Medicine at Rutgers Robert Wood Johnson Medical School, Labros S. Sidossis said:

“Our study explains the paradox that BCAA supplements can potentially benefit those with active brown fat, such as healthy people, but can be detrimental to others, including the elderly, obese and people with diabetes.”

Now, the researchers are trying to learn how environmental conditions can influence the uptake of BCAAs. Examples of such factors include consumption of spicy foods, drugs, or exposure to mildly cold temperatures – about 65 degrees Fahrenheit.

This could improve blood sugar levels that are linked to diabetes and obesity, Sidossis said.

Read More: New Cancer Treatment Turns Breast Cancer Cells into Fat Cells

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Sumbo Bello

Sumbo Bello is a creative writer who enjoys creating data-driven content for news sites. In his spare time, he plays basketball and listens to Coldplay.

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