When newborns first enter into the world, they’re in for a rude awakening – it’s awfully cold out here!
Tossed out of a balmy 98.6 degree womb and shot straight into a significantly chillier room temperature, the change in climate can be a pretty distressing – and dangerous – prospect for a little person who is still unable to shiver his way back to warmth again.
This is why babies and young children depend on a unique organ called brown adipose tissue (BAT) to maintain a healthy internal body temperature. BAT uses fat calories to generate body heat. These brown fat cells, located in the neck and upper back, burn up white fat cells – the doughy kind that increase weight and are located all around the body – to keep young children’s bodies at a healthy temperature when exposed to cold.
However, as we get older, develop higher metabolic rates, increased muscle mass and the ability to shiver, our bodies are able to protect us from cold with other adapted responses. And so, as our need for BAT seemed to diminish with age, doctors claimed that our fat-burning brown adipose tissue simply shrinks away as we grow into adulthood, and eventually disappears.
Fat that Burns Fat
Nevertheless, more recent research is beginning to show that this naturally slimming organ of our youth doesn’t completely abandon us after all. In fact, if activated in the right ways, BAT can help you lose weight and reduce body fat naturally, through your adult years as well.
Oncologists conducting CT scans in search of cancer kept noticing hot spots in the neck and between the shoulders – especially during the winter months – that turned out not to be cancer after all, but just fat. In 2005, when this fat tissue was removed and further examined, the holy grail was finally discovered – brown adipose tissue present and active in adults, burning up fat naturally from within when “woken up” and stimulated into action.
Burn Off Fat or Freeze Off Fat?
A 2013 study showed that, like babies, adult BAT can be stimulated to burn fat when people are exposed to cold temperatures. The research showed that two hours of cold exposure every day for six weeks led to a significant reduction in body fat, showing that the more BAT an adult has, and the more active it is, the thinner she is.
But as the prospect of daily two hour ice baths or half-naked outdoor winter walks are less appealing to some, there are (thankfully) other ways to naturally activate your brown adipose tissue and take advantage of its natural fat-reducing abilities.
Certain foods have shown a remarkable ability to stimulate the growth of BAT in your body. A diet rich in foods that are high in the compounds capsaicin and arginine have been scientifically proven to activate BAT, counter-acting metabolic slow-down, promoting calorie burning and achieving total-body fat reduction.
10 Foods that Naturally Stimulate BAT Growth and Fat-Burning
- Hot peppers
- Black pepper
- Pumpkin seeds
- Sesame seeds
- Lean turkey