Brown fat cells might hold the key to battling diabetes, obesity

Brown fat cells might hold the key to battling diabetes, obesity

Written by Editorial Team |Published : November 23, 2013 11:34 AM IST

Obesity and diabetesAn Indian-origin researcher has discovered brown fat stem cells in adult humans that may lead to new treatments for diabetes and obesity. Until now, it was thought that brown fat stem cells did not exist in adults. Children have large amounts of brown fat that is highly metabolically active, which allows them to eat large amounts of food and not gain weight.

The study was led by Amit N Patel, director of Clinical Regenerative Medicine and Tissue Engineering, and associate professor in the Division of Cardiothoracic Surgery at the University of Utah School of Medicine. Adults generally have an abundance of white fat in their bodies, which leads to weight gain and cardiovascular disease but this is not seen in brown fat, Patel said.

As people age the amount of white fat increases and brown fat decreases which contributes to diabetes and high cholesterol. 'If you have more brown fat, you weigh less, you're metabolically efficient, and you have fewer instances of diabetes and high cholesterol,' Patel said. 'The unique identification of human brown fat stem cells in the chest of patients aged from 28 to 84 years is profound. We were able to isolate the human stem cells, culture and grow them, and implant them into a pre-human model which has demonstrated positive effects on glucose levels,' said Patel.

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The new discovery of finding brown fat stem cells may help in identifying potential drugs that may increase the body's own ability to make brown fat or find novel ways to directly implant the brown fat stem cells into patients. The study was published in the journal Stem Cells.

What is diabetes?

Diabetes is a metabolic disease which is characterised by high blood sugar levels. It can be caused either due to the lack of insulin (type 1 diabetes) or because the body's cells fail to respond to the insulin produced (type 2 diabetes). Some of the common symptoms of diabetes are hunger, frequent urination and increased thirst. While type 1 diabetes is usually genetic, type 2 diabetes is caused more by lifestyle factors. It is one of the common 'lifestyle diseases' which is plaguing people in the developed countries and often has a causal link to heart diseases, hypertension and obesity. (Read more..)

Home remedies for diabetes

Ever wonder if there was something you could do at home to keep your blood sugar levels in check? Well, there is. Here are some of them:

Holy Basil Leaves: Also known as tulsi, leaves of holy basil are packed with antioxidants and essential oils that produce eugenol, methyl eugenol and caryophyllene. Collectively these substances help the pancreatic beta cells (cells that store and release insulin) function properly. This in turn helps increase sensitivity to insulin. An added advantage is that the antioxidants present in the leaves help beat the ill effects of oxidative stress.

Tip: Have two to three tulsi leaves whole, or about one tablespoon full of its juice on an empty stomach to lower the blood sugar levels. Read more home remedies

Caring for a diabetic

Diabetes can be treated but can't be cured. People with diabetes can still live a long and healthy life by making some important changes in their lives. When a family member is diagnosed with the disease your support and care can go a long way in achieving and maintaining their blood glucose control. Your role as a care taker can throw up some unique challenges.

Educate yourself

You can care for your family member only when you know about the disease. So, first and foremost, educate yourself about diabetes. Know as much as you can about the disease. To stay healthy, they have to learn how to monitor and control their blood sugar levels. (Read: Living with diabetes)

Pay attention to their diet

Diabetics need to eat regular meals. They need to have at least three meals every day at about the same times. Hence it is important to follow a healthy meal plan at home. Make healthy diet a lifestyle. Encourage them to eat a variety of foods. Give them a choice of food with less fat, less sugar and less salt. Include high-fibre foods, like vegetables, fruit and whole grain breads and cereals in the menu. Don't stock up on junk food. Read more

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