HCG Diet & Natural Wellness Blog
Fat as an Endocrine Organ
|February 12, 2015|
The Endocrine Organ Known as Fat or Adipose Tissue
Fat, or adipose, has long been known as a benign place of stored energy. Today, fat is known to be a very active endocrine organ. Fat cells are capable of producing a myriad of hormones that play a significant role in the body and have an impact on overall health. For those people with a “normal” body composition, the fat cells act as a protective support. As fat cells grow beyond what is considered a healthy limit, fat begins to function as an endocrine organ. The cytokines (adipokines) that are released from fat cells play a strong contributing role in the development of metabolic syndrome, insulin resistance, and type 2 diabetes. It is very important to understand the risk factors associated with excessively high body fat.
Inflammatory Response Signaled by Fat Cells
Adipose tissue is composed fat cells which contain a large lipid droplet surrounded by cytoplasm with the nucleus on the periphery of the cell. As excessive fat is gained on the body, these fat cells increase to 4x their original size before dividing into new cells. Excessive fat stores also begin to secrete adipokines throughout the body which studies confirm lead to an acute inflammatory response.6 Next in the cascade, bone-marrow derived immune cells respond by infiltrating adipose tissue, and releasing certain molecules that can induce changes that lead to chronic inflammation.6
The Most Studied Inflammatory Factors Released by Excessive Fat Stores
Tumor Necrosis Factor α (TNF-α) is an inflammatory molecule released from adipose tissue. Overweight individuals secrete TNF-α in high amounts. TNF alpha is a strong contributing factor to insulin resistance.3 TNF- α down regulates GLUT-4, which is responsible for transporting glucose into skeletal muscle, resulting in reduced insulin function. TNF- α also reduces the activity of the insulin receptor, diminishing insulin’s metabolic effects and potentially leading to muscle insulin resistance.5
Interleukin-6 (IL-6) is another molecule released from excessive adipose tissue. Like TNF-α, IL-6 also down regulates GLUT-4, further reducing insulin function and contributing to insulin resistance. In response to higher IL-6 concentrations, the liver will release excess amounts of C-reactive protein (CRP) and fibrinogen in the blood. CRP and fibrinogen are two of the major risk factors for cardiovascular disease and type 2 diabetes.6 IL-6 also increases the concentration and activity of blood platelets, which increases the risk for blood clots.2 IL-6 also contributes to damaging our vascular (blood vessel) walls.4 This can create plaque formation in the wall of a blood vessel which can then lead to atherosclerosis.
When fat cells become excessive in the body, they inhibit the secretion of adiponectin. Adiponectin is a protective protein that is anti-inflammatory in nature. The main function of this protein is to stop plaque from building up along blood vessel walls. As fat or adipose tissue increases in the body, adiponectin concentrations decrease. This places you at risk for atherosclerosis, insulin resistance, as well as cardiovascular issues..3 Scientific studies have shown that TNF-α secreted by fat cells is a contributing factors to the decrease in adiponectin concentrations.6
Keep Your Body Composition in Check
As we can see, our fat cells need to be kept in a healthy proportion to the rest of our body composition. Excess adipose or fat tissue is extremely active in the body. Fat cells are able to communicate with immune cells and initiate an inflammatory response with excess calorie storage. Both fat and immune cells secrete various inflammatory factors that negatively influence our bodies. Over time, as the pounds accumulate and these inflammatory responses become chronic your body is at significant risk for chronic inflammation, cardiovascular disease, insulin resistance, and diabetes. Therefore, in order to maintain long-term health, we must keep our body fat in check.
At The Natural Path, we have medical weight loss programs that work to help our patients achieve a healthy, balanced body composition. Along with our programs, comes an abundance of teaching about diet, lifestyle and the physiology of fat storage. Call us today to learn more.
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