Are Your Fat Cells Happy: Health has much more to do with happy fat cells than how much total fat you have
Fat cells or adipocytes are MUCH more than “bags filled with fat” (lipids). Recent research has shown that fat cells send out signals to the rest of the cells in your body when they are “happy” and a whole new set of signals when they are “unhappy”.
What makes a fat cell “happy” or “unhappy”?
Well, the internal (intracellular) and external (extracellular) environment that the adipocyte exists in has everything to do with it. If the adipocyte is overfilled with lipids (fat) and/or it is surrounded by inflammatory chemicals, that cell will be “unhappy”.
“Happy” fat cells release signals to many cells in your body, most notably those in the muscles, liver, brain, and pancrease, that help to increase insulin sensitivity and create an anti-inflammatory effect. Insulin is a hormone needed for proper sugar metabolism and decreased sensitivity to it is associated with diabetes, obesity, metabolic syndrome and cardiovascular problems. Inflammation, not coincidentally, is indicated in all these too and also general aches and pains from muscles and joints.
One of the signals sent out by a “happy” fat cell that has just recently been discovered is called adiponectin. When adiponectin is released to important cells in your body, those cells retain their sensitivity to insulin and are protected from adverse inflammation. (not all inflammation is adverse)
Three of the signals sent out by “unhappy” adipocytes are: Tumor necrosis factor alpha (TNF alpha), C-reactive protein (CRP), and resistin. These signals create insulin resistance (this is bad), and increase adverse inflammation in the cells they communicate with. These signals unfavorably alter the function of these cells (liver, brain, muscles and pancreas) leading to things like obesity, metabolic syndrome, heart problems, cardiovascular disease, diabetes, stroke, muscle wasting and muscle weakness.
So, body “fatness” is not directly related to health but fat cell “hapiness” IS. You can be overweight and be healthy as long as your adipocytes are “happy” (although there is a limit to how overweight you can be is you have a lifestyle that keeps your fat cells “happy”); and you can have a skinny person with “unhappy” fat cells who is vastly unhealthy.
How can I figure out if your fat cells are “happy” or not?
At Optimum Function, I utilize blood chemistry markers as my first line of investigation. Markers like:
- High sensitivity C-reactive protein (should be below 0.9)
- Glycosylated hemoglobin (should be below 5.5%)
- Triglycerides should not be more than half of the total cholesterol number
- HDL cholesterol (should be below 40 in men and 50 in women)
- Triglyceride to HDL ratio (should be less than 4:1)
- Liver enzymes should not be elevated above the laboratory range
In addition to these baseline markers, I may look at the levels of your apolipoproteins, these markers are proving to be incredible for monitoring the state of your fat cells and cholesterol in general. I will also ake your blood pressure which should be below 120/80.
You will notice here that I don’t mention blood sugar. That’s not because it is not an important marker but by the time it is affected, your fat cells have been “unhappy” for a while and disease may have begun. I really encourage my patients to investigate all of this BEFORE your blood sugar is affected.
To find out more about my FBC2000 program which entails looking into your current blood chemistry, relating it to your current health status, contrasting that with your desired health status and coming up with a plan to get there…..click hereYours in Health,Tim Irving DC, MS, LMTOptimum Function: 819 SE Morrison St. ste. 215, Portland, OR, 97215Optimum Function = Optimum Health