Q: I keep hearing about brown fat and how you should try to get more into your body. I found it unhealthy to accumulate fat. Can you explain?
– Chaz G., Rockford, Ill.
ON: People have two types of fat in their body. White fat stores excess calories. If it builds up around the waist, it is linked to inflammation and metabolic disorders that can lead to obesity and diabetes. Brown fat, on the other hand, creates body heat by breaking down blood sugar and fat molecules to produce heat. This uses up energy (calories) and therefore the more brown fat you have, the lower the risk of obesity. Newborns have the largest proportion of brown fat and lose more than 95% of weight with age.
• Cold temperatures activate brown fat. For example, a study published in the journal Diabetes says you can activate brown fat by being exposed to temperatures around 66 ° F for two hours a day (with light or no clothing).
• Another way to increase the activity of your brown fat is to exercise 300 minutes a week. This stimulates the production of the protein irisin, which is missing in people with obesity, according to a recent study in Frontiers in Endocrinology. Like brown fat, irisin is involved in thermoregulation (body temperature and calorie burning).
• Bonus: Caffeine also stimulates brown fat production – so enjoy yourself.
Activating brown fat will not only help you control your weight and get rid of visceral fat. According to a new study in Nature, people with the most detectable brown fat are at lower risk of type 2 diabetes, coronary artery disease, high blood pressure, and heart failure. And how Dr. Mike explains in his upcoming book, The Great Age Reboot, that one day we may have brown fat stimulating medical therapies. Scientists have already successfully converted white fat into pluripotent fat and then converted it into brown fat in animals.
Q: Can you explain the newly identified subtypes of prediabetes? I ask because my doctor says I am in a risk group for developing type 2 diabetes and need to start taking medication.
– Inez D., Tempe, Ariz.
ON: Your doctor needs to be on the cutting edge of research! A new study by the German Institute for Diabetes Research and Metabolic Diseases examined metabolic markers such as blood sugar levels, liver fat, body fat distribution, blood fat levels and genetic risk and found which of them had the greatest risk of developing whole-blown diabetes. They were able to track people in their study group for 25 years.
The results are as follows: People with prediabetes, who are at greatest risk of developing type 2 diabetes and who have other health problems such as obesity and heart, liver, and kidney disease, fall into three categories. They are people with fatty liver disease and insulin resistance, those who make too little insulin (which usually happens after someone has been insulin resistant for a while), and those who have kidney damage before diabetes is diagnosed.
If you fall into any of these sub-categories, it’s time to start a war of aggression to reduce your risks. You may develop diabetes in the next few years and you want to avoid that.
Improving your diet, maintaining a healthy weight, and increasing your physical activity are the first steps you need to take. We encourage you to work with a diabetes advisor, nutritionist, and physical therapist or exercise trainer. Join a support group and perform a stress management routine to help you stay focused. For some people, this is enough to overcome prediabetes and completely erase your risk – if you stick to lifestyle improvements. You may need medication, and there are many to choose from, that can help with insulin resistance and production, weight loss, glucose levels, and even kidney problems. You have the opportunity to change your future. Embrace it.
Mehmet Oz, MD, is the host of the “Dr. Oz Show, ”and Mike Roizen, MD, is the chief wellness officer emeritus at the Cleveland Clinic. Email your health and wellness questions to Dr. Oz and Dr. Roizen at email@example.com.