By Kevin DiDonato MS, CSCS, CES
Recent studies have shown that your fat cells could be one of the biggest endocrine organs in your body.
Similar to your thyroid and pancreas, your fat cells release hormones, cytokines, and proteins that can help you lose weight.
However, those same chemicals may also lead to weight gain and increase chronic inflammation (low level inflammation in your body, which can create damage to your cells) in your fat cells.
This can potentially lead to toxic fat cells, which could slow weight loss and increase your risk for developing chronic diseases such as diabetes, metabolic syndrome, and heart disease.
However, there could be a way to increase the secretion of good hormones and reduce the release of bad hormones.
Let me explain...
There are a number of different hormones, which once released by your fat cells, can help stimulate weight loss.
Two of the most important ones are: Adiponectin and Leptin.
By working together, adiponectin and leptin could help you lose weight and keep it off.
Leptin, as research points out, can help control appetite, energy expenditure, and energy intake.
It is a hormone secreted by your fat cells that has the unique ability to communicate with a part of your brain called the hypothalamus.
By communicating with your hypothalamus, leptin is able to control appetite by telling your brain when you are full.
However, with toxic fat cells, your fat cells are unable to communicate directly with Leptin, so they become resistant to Leptin.
Research shows that leptin resistance could increase your appetite, cortisol levels, and resistance to many beneficial hormones in your body.
Similarly, adiponectin, which is a hormone released exclusively from your fat cells, could aid in the regulation of glucose and fatty acid catabolism.
In overweight or obese individuals, your fat cells secrete less adiponectin, which could lead to your cells releasing more pro-inflammatory cytokines.
However, losing weight could cause adiponectin levels to increase, which could help stimulate weight loss.
Adiponectin and leptin work together, and according some research studies, this combination could reduce insulin resistance and weight.
Changes in your weight (by weight loss) has the potential to increase the levels of both of these powerful hormones, which could help you lose more weight and alter your fat cells for the better.
There are many different hormones, which when released by fat cells, act as pro-inflammatory cytokines, meaning they have the ability to increase inflammation (chronic) levels.
When released by your fat cells, these cytokines increase inflammation. However, as research points out, the same cytokines released from your fat cells can increase inflammation in your body as well as in your fat cells.
This could lead to a bigger inflammatory response, and even more pro-inflammatory cytokines being released from your fat cells.
Increased levels of pro-inflammatory cytokines could increase chronic inflammation levels, therefore leading to even sicker or more toxic fat cells.
This could hinder weight loss and could lead to diabetes, heart disease, metabolic syndrome, and insulin resistance.
Some of the more common pro-inflammatory cytokines released by your fat cells are:
• Monocyte chemotactic protein-1
• Macrophage migration inhibitory factor
• And many others
What You Can Do
Research suggests that by losing weight, you could alter your fat cells' ability to release more adiponectin AND it could also lead to increased sensitivity to leptin.
Increasing your fat cells' sensitivity to these powerful hormones could reduce the production and release of pro-inflammatory cytokines, which could eventually lead to increased weight loss.
This could improve the health of your fat cells and lead to a longer and healthier life.
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