Friday, August 17, 2012

Do Fat Cells Ever Go Away?

Many clients have asked me the question, “Do fat cells ever go away?” so I decided to write about it today and post it to my Diva Diet Blog.

We all know that when we consume more calories than we expend, those extra calories will be stored primarily as fat regardless of whether the extra calories come from fats, carbohydrates or proteins. So how many fat cells are we born with and do we ever create new ones?

When do fat cells start to develop?
The body creates a set number of fat cells in development, which last for life. "Infants begin to develop fat cells during the third trimester of pregnancy. As a young child grows, fat cells divide and multiply in the body much the same as red and white blood cells do. Unlike red and white blood cells that dissolve and exit the body through the skin, urine and bowel, fat cells endure.

Most scientists believe that fat cells increase substantially in number during adolescence and having an elevated number of these cells is a predictor of obesity later in life. I’ve known this for many years and my heart breaks when I see the number of overweight/obese children these days.

Do fat cells multiply?
If we eat more calories than our body needs, our fat cells stretch to store these extra calories as triglycerides. The sad truth is that a person can even gain new fat cells. An obese person has at least two or three times the amount of normal cells, which continue to multiply and affect body function.

Once created, fat cells remain in your body forever; they may shrink in size when you lose weight, but they never go away. Body fat increases with age. According to the Mayo Clinic, "As you age and your metabolism slows down, the amount of fat in your body slowly increases. Women experience an even greater fat percentage increase than men do.”  This would indicate, as we all age, there is an even greater need to pay close attention to portion size and food choices. 

I chose this picture to illustrate what the body looks like when we are at our optimal weight and what happens as a person starts to gain weight and the fat cells become stretched and enlarged. 

Do fat cells store toxins?
Recent research being done now shows fat cells in overweight people create certain substances that are released into the bloodstream at higher levels than normal. Over time, excessive amounts of the substances begin to damage blood vessels and tissues and impair blood flow, resulting in health problems such as diabetes, high blood pressure, liver disease, cardiovascular disease and certain types of cancer.

Is there anything you can do to normalize the secretions from your fat cells? The answer is yes, and losing weight is your best option. Weight loss shrinks fat cells back to their usual size, normalizes their secretions and can reverse or prevent many of the health conditions associated with obesity.

Some experts predict that doctors may one day be able to analyze a person’s genetic make-up along with the products of their fat cells to see which compounds that are over- or under-secreting, and design an individualized dietary plan to counter the adverse effects of abnormal levels of specific secretions. Until that day, the usual diet and exercise plan is the best route to shedding pounds.

Resources:
John Hopkins Health Alerts
Protean Services March 2011
Michigan Life Science Institute

Brought to you by Your Diet Diva Blog

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