Tag Archives: brown fat

Is it just me, or is walking the ultimate secret to getting and staying fit?

March 4, 2017

Oddly, my husband and I generally spend all winter dieting and shedding all the weight we’ve put on during the warmer months. Reverse of what most people do, I think.

Last time, I talked about cold exposure in winter as it actually helps to increase your brown fat stores – the kind of fat you actually want more of on your body as it enables you to burn more fat.  Just like eating avocados!

Weather permitting, winter changing into spring can be a great time to take up long, brisk walks which can also help increase your ‘cold exposure’ and build more brown fat. Try walking to and from work or walking the kids to school. With our smart phones and Fitbits able to track our moves and steps, we can easily clock how far we walk, run, jump or cycle at any point in the day. The 10,000 steps a day recommendation on most tracking devices was esoterically assigned based on the Japanese company who made the pedometer in the 1960s. Recent research has since shown that walking this much every day is a lofty goal for most, but if it gets you up and moving more (which helps get your heart pumping and lowers blood pressure), then why not give it a try? Some folks think anything around 7 to 8 thousand steps a day is sufficient.

Walking is also an easy way to increase your daily activity in small amounts regardless of your fitness level. We spend so much time sedentary in front of our computers each day now that getting in a one hour workout 5 days a week no longer qualifies as an ‘active lifestyle’. If you walk to and from your daily appointments, you can up your activity levels significantly and be considered less sedentary. And, see more of what’s going on in the world around you.

Time to get to know the neighbours a little better and maybe even just commit to getting fit!

Is it just me, or…is leptin a serious player in the overall equation of type 1 diabetes?

January 29 2017

January…thankfully nearly over! The long, dark nights and cold, dark mornings are almost unbearable. But there is a small way to capitalise on this cold, bitter weather to get fitter. As a health conscious t1d (Type 1 diabetic), I am always on the lookout for ways to stay healthy, eat well and keep my body moving.

Loads of new studies are telling us that being cold is actually good for us. Why? Because it enables our brown fat (yes, the other, good kind of fat in our bodies!) to help burn up our unwanted white fat. How do we do this? There are several ways. When we are cold, our brown fat kicks into action and heats up our white fat, essentially burning it off to keep our bodies warm. The colder it is outside, the more calories we will ultimately burn to stay warm. If we can stay outdoors a bit more in this bitterly cold time of year, even if only for a few extra minutes (try walking instead of taking the bus, plus it will warm you up even more), we can increase our fat-burning potential by essentially resetting our leptin resistance. Too good to be true? Maybe yes for the t1d.

Leptin is a blood-borne protein that is now seen as a revolutionary factor in a multitude of ways: most importantly for reducing food intake as it acts as an on/off switch for feeling satiated after eating. It is also critical for activating a second, back-up method to stop overeating. It sends a signal from the liver stimulated by insulin which is then sent to the brain to turn on the ‘off switch’.

However, it doesn’t work in t1ds because they don’t have the insulin to trigger the stimulus. For Type 2 diabetes, the overeating behaviour leading to diabetes can be modified through both motivational and behavioural change models, as it can be controlled by diet and lifestyle changes (however in extreme cases or frequently when people can’t commit to these, medication can be administered to control it). But as a Type 1 diabetic (not behaviourally related), I am curious to see where research might head on this ‘stimulated off switch’ issue as I am always hungry, but have been told for years it’s because I am on insulin (which makes a person hungrier). One might surmise that the insulin I am injecting should trigger the ‘off switch’, but in fact, the more insulin I take, the hungrier I feel.  Or is this problem due to the fact when I take insulin, I regularly hypo and then feel the need to ‘panic eat’ to correct the hypo? I’m not sure I recognise the difference anymore.

Could unlocking the key to leptin be revolutionary for Type 1 diabetics in a multitude of ways? Maybe in time with more research leptin will prove to be the new ‘off switch’ allowing Type 1s the ability to finally feel satiated.