Monday, November 10, 2008

The Good Side of Fat

We (as in our culture) are obsessed with skinny. We are told from childhood that to be skinny is to be beautiful. Fat is bad. Everywhere you look is an advertisement for the latest fad diet. Foods are labeled low fat or labels boast about how few calories they contain. What no one seems to remember is that the human body needs a certain amount of fat.

The scientific name for fat is adipose tissue. Adipose tissue is a connective tissue stored between the dermis ( the bottom layer of skin) and muscle. There are two types of adipose tissue; white adipose tissue and brown adipose tissue which is found primarily in infants and disappears as the child grows.

The main function of adipose tissue is to reserve lipids which can be burned to meet energy needs of the body. You will not starve to death during a few days of sickness and not eating because your body has an extra store to be released when caloric use maxes intake. Even a breastfeeding mother can continue to nurse when she can not eat for a short time. Her body will produce milk from energy stores.

A second function of adipose tissue is to cushion internal organs. The kidneys and eyeballs are enclosed in a layer of fat to absorb shock. Other organs are also protected by fat. Adipose tissue provides protection of skeletal muscle to prevent rupture of small blood vessels (bruising).
Adipose tissue insulates the body and helps conserve body heat. This is where brown fat comes in. Brown fat is a specialized form of adipose tissue in infants. They are born with stores of brown fat mainly around the neck. An infant's body can break down brown fat to produce heat. Because infants are unable to shiver or take other measures to warm themselves, this may be vital in an infant exposed to cold.

Finally, adipose tissue is an endocrine tissue, which means it secretes hormones, the primary one being Leptin. Leptin is an appetite-suppressing hormone. When released, it signals the hypothalamus that fat stores are sufficient.

Adipose tissue is necessary to the proper functioning of the body. An overabundance is harmful. But remember, not all fat is bad.


sarahdodson said...

Neat info here. I was at my largest weight when I was eating "low fat." interesting...

Danielle said...

Interesting information!! Thanks for the review. Your blog and etsy store look great. Good job!!