If recent studies on mice are any indication, CBD will someday be in the toolbox of every healthcare practitioner and in the homes of every health and weight-conscious consumer.
One way to categorize the fat in our bodies is by its color: white or brown. The vast majority of our body fat is white fat, also called white adipose tissue (WAT), which is the stored fat. Categorizing this fat a step further is visceral fat versus subcutaneous (under the skin) fat. Visceral fat is stored in the abdomen and around organs, such as the stomach, intestines, and liver.
Referred to as “active fat,” visceral fat is associated with chronic diseases such as diabetes, heart disease, and metabolic disorder. White, visceral fat is the unhealthy fat that accumulates in obesity and the fat that you want to reduce in weight loss to improve health.
On the other hand, brown fat, also referred to as brown adipose tissue (BAT), gets its color from iron-rich mitochondria, the powerhouse of the cell. When brown fat burns, a process called thermogenesis happens, which creates heat without shivering. Guess what else happens? Calories in the form of white fat are burned for energy. Not surprisingly, individuals at optimal weights have more brown fat than those who are overweight.
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The next question: Is there a way to turn white fat into brown fat? Because brown fat gets activated when your body is cold, keeping the heat down in winter, getting outside during the cold weather, and taking ice baths may be helpful. In the field of obesity, exercise is recommended to maintain weight loss, while changing food intake is recommended for weight loss. It appears that exercise can incite brown fat production and adequate sleep can theoretically promoting weight loss.
There may be one more lifestyle factor that can potentially create brown fat. You guessed it, CBD. In one mouse study, CBD was found to increase the expression of multiple genes that are involved in the browning of fat. Gene expression is the process where DNA in our genes is translated into instructions for making functional gene products, such as proteins or other molecules.
Multiple factors can impact gene expression, including diet, nutritional status, stress, physical activity, and much more. If these animal studies can be replicated in humans, CBD will be in the toolbox of every healthcare practitioner and in the homes of every health and weight-conscious consumer.
You can catch Laura speaking about the interaction among the endocannabinoid system, eating behavior, and cannabis at Villanova University on March 6.