Researchers from the University of Nottingham have found that a cup of coffee a day can stimulate ‘brown fat,’ which is the body’s defense against fat accumulation, which could be a revolution in the war against obesity and diabetes. The research is the first of its kind to be carried out in humans to investigate the direct impact of components on ‘brown fat’ functions, a crucial part of the human body responsible for the conversion of calories into energy.
Brown adipose tissue (BAT), also dubbed brown fat, is one of the two types of fat present in humans and other mammals. Earlier, it was only observed in babies and animals in hibernation, but recent studies have shown that it can also be present in adults. The primary function of this tissue is to generate body heat by burning calories, as opposed to white fat’s role in storing excess calories. Thus, people having a low body mass index (BMI) have a high presence of brown fat. Professor Michael Symonds of the School of Medicine at the University of Nottingham, a co-director of the study, explains that brown fat works in a different way than other fat in the body and generates heat by burning sugar and fat, typically in response to cold. Increasing the activity of the fat can improve blood sugar control and blood lipid levels, while the extra calories that are burnt can facilitate weight loss. Although, no precise method was found to directly trigger its activity in humans until now, adds Symonds.
The team used thermal imaging technology to trace the body’s brown fat reserves and assess its capacity to produce heat, which helped them examine a person straight after they had coffee to see if the brown fat got hotter. The researchers have mentioned that they need to ensure that caffeine is the ingredient activating brown fat or if there is another component involved in the process. The ingredient could potentially be used in weight management or glucose regulation in diabetes.