Fish oil turns fat-storage cells into fat-burning cells, study findsFOOD See all FOOD posts
Fish oil has been known for long time with it’s wide range of health benefits. It is beneficial for the cardiovascular system and it can potentially treat the effects of schizophrenia. But a new study from Japan states that it could also help people trying to lose weight.
Researchers from Kyoto University in Japan found that mice fed with fatty foods combined with fish oil gained considerably less weight, than a mice fed only with fatty foods. They suggest that fish oil is able to transform fat-storage cells into fat-burning cells in mice. If the same process occurs also in humans, fish oil could help us lose weight, especially as we age, when our fat-burning cells get less.
Our bodies metabolise fat more easily when we are young, as we have a greater amount of brown fat cells, which metabolise fat to maintain a stable body temperature. As we age the amount of the brown fat cells decreases. Then the white fat cells, which store fat increase.
Next to white and brown fat cells scientists have also discovered a third type of fat cell – beige fat cells, which function is close to brown fat cells in mice and people. Same as brown fat cells, the beige fat cells get less as we age, making it harder for our bodies to burn fat. This is where fish oil can help.
According to the results published in Scientific Reports, mice fed with fish oil next to fatty foods, gained 5 to 10 % less weight and had 15 to 25 % less fat. The researchers say that this happen because fish oil activates receptors in the digestive tract, which fire up the sympathetic nervous system and induce storage cells to metabolise fat. The fish oil causes white fat cells to transform into beige fat cells. It turns fat-storage tissue into fat-metabolising tissue, which is leading to increased energy expenditure, less weight gain and less fat accumulation.
Despite the genetic similarity between mice and human, researchers say that it is too soon to say whether these findings will also apply to humans, but they also believe that further studies may prove it. This could contribute as an effective treatment of obesity.
According to researchers the findings from this study might give a better insight into why food from Japan and the Mediterranean contribute to longevity.