Posted on Jun 27, 2019, 6 p.m.
According to a study published in the journal Scientific Reports a cup of coffee per day may help to stimulate brown fat, which may help in the fight against obesity and diabetes.
Brown adipose tissue is one of two types of fat found in humans, initially attributed to babies and hibernating mammals it was recently discovered that adults have brown fat too. The main function of brown fat is to generate body heat by burning calories, and those with a lower BMI have a higher amount of brown fat.
"Brown fat works in a different way to other fat in your body and produces heat by burning sugar and fat, often in response to cold. Increasing its activity improves blood sugar control as well as improving blood lipid levels and the extra calories burnt help with weight loss. However, until now, no one has found an acceptable way to stimulate its activity in humans.” says Professor Michael Symonds.
"This is the first study in humans to show that something like a cup of coffee can have a direct effect on our brown fat functions. The potential implications of our results are pretty big, as obesity is a major health concern for society and we also have a growing diabetes epidemic and brown fat could potentially be part of the solution in tackling them."
Researchers from the University of Nottingham began with a series of stem cell studies to see if caffeine could stimulate brown fat, once the correct dose was found they moved onto humans to try and replicate their findings. Non-invasive thermal imaging techniques were used to trace the body’s brown fat reserves and assess its capacity to produce heat.
"From our previous work, we knew that brown fat is mainly located in the neck region, so we were able to image someone straight after they had a drink to see if the brown fat got hotter. The results were positive and we now need to ascertain that caffeine as one of the ingredients in the coffee is acting as the stimulus or if there's another component helping with the activation of brown fat.”
“We are currently looking at caffeine supplements to test whether the effect is similar. Once we have confirmed which component is responsible for this, it could potentially be used as part of a weight management regime or as part of glucose regulation programme to help prevent diabetes."
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