Brown adipose tissue (BAT), also known as brown fat, is one of two types of fat found in humans and other mammals. Initially it was only thought to be present in babies and mammals that hibernate, but in recent years it was discovered that adults may also have brown fat. Its main function is to generate body heat by burning calories (unlike white fat, which is the result of storing excess calories). Thus, people with a lower body mass index (BMI) have a higher amount of brown fat.
A team of experts, led by Michael Symonds, has discovered that drinking a cup of coffee can stimulate “brown fat,” the body’s defenses that fight fat, which could be the key to fighting obesity and diabetes. The study, published in Scientific Reports, is one of the first to be carried out in humans with the aim of finding components with a direct effect in the functions of brown fat.
“Brown fat,” explains Symonds in a statement, “works differently than other fats in your body and produces heat by burning sugar in response to cold. Increasing your activity improves blood sugar control by helping you lose weight. However, until now, no one had found an acceptable way to stimulate their activity in humans. This is the first study in humans that shows that a cup of coffee can have a direct effect on our brown fat functions. The potential implications of our results are quite large, since obesity is a major health problem for society and also having a growing epidemic of diabetes and brown fat could potentially be part of the solution to address them. “
The team used thermal imaging techniques to track brown body fat stores. The non-invasive technique helps the team locate this fat and evaluate its ability to produce heat.
“The results were positive,” concludes Symonds, “and now we must determine that caffeine as one of the ingredients of coffee, acts as a stimulus or if there is another component that helps with the activation of brown fat. We are currently considering caffeine supplements for assess 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 control regimen or as part of the glucose regulation program to help prevent diabetes.”