Metabolism slowing with age? Reverse it

It seems unfair that when we hit a certain age, our metabolism begins to slow down.

You might be just as active as you used to be (well, almost) and even eat the same foods you have for years, but the weight starts hanging around your hips, thighs and belly a little more with each passing year.

Worse, that age-related weight gain increases our risks for obesity, type 2 diabetes, chronic inflammation, and, yes, heart disease.

Those are the main reasons that, over the years, scientists have begun learning more about the types of fat we carry.

And now they believe that by stimulating the production of certain types of fat cells, it may be possible to reverse the way metabolism slows with age and those ill effects…

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Three types of body fat

Mammals, including humans, have two main types of fat.

One is white adipose tissue (WAT), which stores energy from the calories we eat but don’t need right away. The other is brown adipose tissue (BAT), which burns calories to produce heat to maintain body temperature.

There’s also a third type, known as beige fat

Beige fat cells have features midway between white and brown. They come from white parent cells, but function like brown fat cells by burning energy to produce heat when the core body temperature dips.

Beige fat cells are thermogenic (they burn energy), just like brown fat cells. Therefore, they help to reduce the excess blood sugar and fatty acids that lead to diabetes and heart disease.

Ramp up metabolism with beige fat

It’s this beige fat that the researchers hope to harness to ramp your metabolism back up. and here’s how…

‘Browning’ is the process by which white fat cells are turned into healthier beige fat cells. Being exposed to sustained cold temperatures stimulates adipose progenitor cells to form thermogenic beige fat cells.

“There are seasonal changes in beige fat in young humans,” says Dan Berry, assistant professor in the Division of Nutritional Sciences at Cornell University. “But an older person would have to stand outside in the snow in their underwear to get those same effects.”

Obviously, this is not the best option.

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However, in mice studies, they discovered a signaling pathway that interferes with beige fat formation. By suppressing this pathway, the scientists were able to cause aging mice to produce beige fat again, instead of only white.

The hope is to develop a pharmaceutical that could block the same pathway in humans. Until then, here are a few ways to stimulate more of that good brown fat conversion in your body…

Kick the thermostat down. Some studies suggest that keeping your house at cooler temperatures and taking cold showers or baths can stimulate white fat to convert to beige fat.

Try resveratrol. Researchers at Washington State University found in a study on mice that the powerful polyphenol helps to stimulate white fat to turn “beige,” amping up its sugar and fat-burning power.

Spice things up. Research has found capsaicin helps trigger a process known as non-exercise activity thermogenesis (NEAT) — a term used for the energy the body uses for all activity apart from exercise, sleeping and eating.

Drink coffee. Researchers in England found that drinking coffee can stimulate the activity of brown fat cells.

Take fish oil supplements. Research out of Japan found in mice experiments that fish oil turned white fat beige and the mice on fish oil gained less weight and fat than the mice that didn’t get fish oil.

Eat foods that make beige fat. Certain fruits, nuts and vegetables contain a natural substance that encourages the body to create beige fat.

Exercise. Studies suggest that exercise activates the hormone irisin, which tells white fat in your body to burn like brown fat, which creates beige fat.

Add iron to your diet. Take a good iron supplement (check with your doctor first) or add iron-rich foods to your diet: meat and seafood, whole grains, dark leafy vegetables and beans.

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‘Beige fat’ could hold key to age-related metabolism change — Eureka Alert

Age-dependent Pdgfrβ signaling drives adipocyte progenitor dysfunction to alter the beige adipogenic niche in male mice — Nature Communications

Brown Fat — Cleveland Clinic

Brown, white and beige: understanding your body’s different fat cells could help with weight loss — The Conversation

Joyce Hollman

By Joyce Hollman

Joyce Hollman is a writer based in Kennebunk, Maine, specializing in the medical/healthcare and natural/alternative health space. Health challenges of her own led Joyce on a journey to discover ways to feel better through organic living, utilizing natural health strategies. Now, practicing yoga and meditation, and working towards living in a chemical-free home, her experiences make her the perfect conduit to help others live and feel better naturally.