Drinking a cup of coffee can stimulate brown adipose tissue, a type of body fat that is activated to produce heat to help maintain your body temperature in cold conditions, according to a study carried out in humans to find factors that can directly affect brown fat functions.

For the study, conducted by scientists of the University of Nottingham and published in Scientific Reports, the team of scientists studied first in vitro if caffeine would stimulate brown fat. Once they corroborate the hypothesis and found the right dose, they studied it in humans to see if they had the same affect.

Brown fat works in a different way to other fat in your body and produces heat by burning sugar and fat, often in response to cold. Increasing its activity improves blood sugar control as well as improving blood lipid levels and the extra calories burnt help with weight loss. However, until now, no one has found an acceptable way to stimulate its activity in human,” said Professor Michael Symonds, from the School of Medicine at the University of Nottingham who co-directed the study.

This is the first study in humans to show that something like a cup of coffee can have a direct effect on our brown fat functions. The potential implications of our results are pretty big, as obesity is a major health concern for society and we also have a growing diabetes epidemic and brown fat could potentially be part of the solution in tackling them,” Symonds added.

The team traced the body’s brown fat reserves and its capacity to produce heat using a thermal imaging technique.

From our previous work, we knew that brown fat is mainly located in the neck region, so we were able to image someone straight after they had a drink to see if the brown fat got hotter,” said Professor Symonds.

The results were positive and we now need to ascertain that caffeine as one of the ingredients in the coffee is acting as the stimulus or if there’s another component helping with the activation of brown fat. We are currently looking at caffeine supplements to test whether the effect is similar,” he said.

Once we have confirmed which component is responsible for this, it could potentially be used as part of a weight management regime or as part of glucose regulation programme to help prevent diabetes,” Symonds concluded.

 

Source: Science Daily