Most of us fight fat tissue. We want to get rid of it, because we believe that it brings us all the damage. However, this is only partly true – the excess is excessively harmful to us, caused mostly by inadequate lifestyle. A certain level of it is absolutely essential for the proper functioning of the body. So what functions does it do, except for energy storage?
The adipocyte is the basic structural unit of adipose tissue. There are two types of them. White adipocytes are specialized in the storage of condensed energy. The tissue they form is called white adipose tissue. The other type of fat cells are brown adipocytes. They are characterized by the presence of numerous mitochondria, thanks to which they have the ability to convert chemical energy into thermal energy. These cells are part of the brown adipose tissue.
Brown adipose tissue (BAT)
It is also called beige adipose tissue, its name is associated with the presence of numerous mitochondria and an extensive network of blood vessels that give it a dark color. It plays an important role
in thermoregulation processes – it is involved in the thermogenesis process induced by cold and meal, as well as the response associated with fever. Its influence on the regulation of fat and glucose metabolism is also examined. Until recently it was thought that it is only present in children. Today, it is known that adults also have brown adipose tissue located in the vicinity of the suprabram, mediastinum and neck.
It is made of fat cells with large vacuoles, capable of storing energy. Depending on the location in the body we divide it into the subcutaneous – located mainly in the abdominal, gluteal and femoral areas, and visceral – located in the mediastinal and midbrain area. Too much accumulation of visceral fat is particularly dangerous for the body, as it is associated with an increased risk of many diseases, including hyperlipidemia, type II diabetes, hypertension or metabolic syndrome. The increase in the amount of adipose tissue takes place in two mechanisms – hyperplasia and hypertrophy. Hyperplasia is the emergence of new fat cells. Hypertrophy, on the other hand, involves the storage of fatty acids in existing adipocytes. Increased hypertrophy of fat cells leads to dysfunction of their secretory functions and promotes the accumulation of toxic substances in them.
Functions of white adipose tissue
The main function of WAT is to store and release energy. The white adipose tissue is designed to provide the body with energy during starvation. Acquiring energy from fat is called lipolysis. This process is initiated by the action of enzymes, such as adrenaline, noradrenaline, glucagon and adrenocorticotropin. The products of this process are free fatty acids and glycerol. Fatty acids can be used as a source of energy in tissues. Glycerol, on the other hand, reaches the liver, where it participates in the processes of gluconeogenesis or glycolysis (respectively, the structure or distribution of glucose).
It is worth noting, however, that lipolysis is not always unequivocally associated with a reduction in the amount of adipose tissue. The lipolysis process is inhibited by insulin. In obese people who have insulin resistance, we have to deal with increased lipolysis. In the bloodstream of these people there is a very large amount of free fatty acids, which further reduce the sensitivity of tissues to insulin and cause deterioration of glucose uptake by muscle cells.
Adipose tissue is the largest and most important endocrine organ in the human body. Adipocytes produce numerous hormones and other substances that bear the common name of adipokines. These substances are designed to send signals from adipose tissue to other organs and systems – the central nervous system, cardiovascular system, liver and muscles. The most important and well-known adipokines are leptin, adiponectin, resistin, visfatin and waspine. They participate in processes such as regulation of thirst and satiety, glucose and lipid metabolism, immune response, bone formation or growth. They also affect the development of hypertension, atherosclerosis, as well as eating disorders.
Both adipokines and their various functions in the body are not known to us. Numerous studies are still being carried out to understand these processes and to use them in the therapy of metabolic disorders.
How much body fat do you need?
Fat tissue has so many different functions that it is not difficult to guess that a completely deprived body could not survive. In addition to the storage fat, which is a reserve of energy for the body, we also distinguish essential fat. He surrounds organs – the heart, liver, kidneys, isolating them and protecting them from damage. He also enters in the cell membranes, nerve fiber casings, bone marrow and brain. In a healthy man, it is about 3% of body weight.
In women, essential fat also accumulates in the breasts and around the hips. It provides hormonal balance, participates in the production of estrogen and converts its inactive form into active. This fat constitutes an additional 5-9% of the woman’s body weight. Lowering its level results, among other things, in menstrual disorders. The minimum level of body fat, conditioning the proper functioning of the body is 5% for men and 12% for women. It should be noted, however, that such low levels refer only to people practicing sports professionally. The optimal fat content in the average adult, associated with the lowest health risk, is 13-18% for men and 18-25% for women.
The effects of too low body fat
SEE ALSO: https://www.mz-store.co.uk/fat-loss
The greatest danger associated with very low body fat in women is hormonal disorders. The limit value below which hormone problems may begin is individual for each woman and falls within the range of 15-20%. Decrease of fat content below this threshold and the occurrence of additional factors, such as very low caloric intake and intense exercise, reduce gonadoliberin secretion. Under the influence of a decrease in its amount, the pituitary gland reduces the level of secretion of lutenizing hormone and follicle stimulating hormone. These substances, in turn, affect the secretory function of the ovaries. Their deficiency results in reduced production of estrogen and progesterone, resulting in the arrest of the menstrual cycle. Due to the fact that the low level of body fat significantly affects the metabolism of sex hormones, its deficiency is associated with a significant reduction of women’s chances of becoming pregnant.
Very low fat levels are harmful not only for women. Research carried out among a group of professional wrestlers and runners has shown that this condition may also affect the hormonal balance in men. In athletes with a body fat level below 5%, a decreased testosterone level was observed. This resulted in a significant reduction in the amount of semen produced, weakened libido and sexual activity. It is worth noting that, in the case of both women and men, hormonal balance, and with it the proper functioning of the body, is restored when it returns to normal fat content.
As you can see, body fat can not be seen only as unnecessary ballast. Of course, its excess definitely has an adverse effect on our body and leads to the development of many diseases, but the effects of its deficiency are equally harmful. That is why it is so important that we take care of its correct level.Posted on: October 20, 2019