The Skinny on Brown Fat and Eliminating Obesity

By Michael Roizen, MD

Harnessing the ability to live longer and “younger” is among the biggest trends in medicine and wellness today. Dr. Michael Roizen believes a crucial factor in the longevity quest is recognizing that not all fat is created equal, and transforming white/yellow fat into beige/brown fat has the potential to move the needle on one of the greatest health crises—obesity.  The reason? Brown fat has increased mitochondrial density and burns lots of calories while white fat is metabolically inefficient and doesn’t use much energy. Yes, moving white fat to brown powers weight loss, but obesity is a serious disease that can be a key factor in heart disease, cancers, dementia and more.

This trend explores numerous studies and examples of how white cell/brown cell transformation could work, focusing on three areas: pluripotent cell transformation, cold therapy and drugs. For example, researchers have induced pluripotent stem cells and turned them into induced brown adipocytes by transducing a gene. Easier to understand is the (heavily trending) cold therapy where research shows that brown adipose tissue can be recruited, expanded and activated by exposure to cold environments (cryotherapy). This increases metabolic rate, although results are highly individual. Fasting is also proving to be effective and the number of drugs that encourage thermogenesis is increasing. Medical professionals recognize that it is harder to lose than to gain white fat, but the breakthrough on white to brown cell transformation will only increase as science teaches us more. It’s all part of a reality coming ever closer: living like 40, even when we reach the age of 90.

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