In #ObesityWeek 2016 we asked the strange question, can turning off the heating aid weight loss? It has been known for some time that we have two types of body fat; the white, soft and cushiony kind and a firmer, brownish coloured fat called Brown Adipose Tissue; an example of this is the pad on the mid back between the shoulders. When this fat is activated, it generates heat and it is thought that it helps to spur weight loss.
Being in a cold environment can activate this fat, so it begs to be asked if the central heating in our homes, a common feature in most homes today but considered a luxury when I was a child in the 1960s, has also contributed to the obesity problem.
Mentioned in previous blogs is our theory that the current obesity problem is a mosaic of dietary and cultural factors; this article adds central heating to that pile of mosaic tiles.
The pertinent fact for Taymount is that gut microbes change during exposure to cold – and this change is thought to bring about changes in body weight. It is not yet known whether the gut microbes have a direct modulating effect on the brown fat or whether some microbes are just ‘helping’ us to get maximum calories from our food (something which dieters would hate).
One particular bug identified as being associated with weight loss is one called Akkermansia muciniphila. A study in 49 overweight and obese adults found that those who had higher levels of this bug seemed to do far better on diets and lost more weight than those with lower levels. An interesting fact is that this is the bug that seemed to decrease in the mice which were subjected to the cold experiment and yet they began to lose weight again when they were given additional sources of Akkermansia.
This study suggests that the absence of this microbe can encourage weight gain and supplementing with it might be an aid to loing weight. If only it were that simple! Of course all the research is being done on lab mice and has yet to be extrapolated to human subjects, but it does lead us to some interesting theories especially on this #ObesityWeek.
Enid Taylor ND BSc(Hons) Psych is a Naturopath and Clinic Founder/Director of the Taymount Clinic.
For more information on the Taymount Clinic visit www.taymount.com or call 01462 712500