Oct 27, 2021
Brown fat, also called brown adipose tissue or BAT, is a special type of body fat that is (activated) when you get cold. It’s also the same type of fat bears use when hibernating.
We are born with a lot of brown fat, especially behind our shoulder blades. Newborn babies can’t shiver, a process that creates heat within the body so they use their abundant stores of BAT to regulate their temperature.
There are two types of fat on your body – white fat WAT and Brown Fat BAT. White fat is the bad fat that we all associate with excessive caloric intake. Those calories are stored as white fat for use as a an energy source later on. White fat is mostly stored in thighs, hips and stomach and too much of this kind of fat is associated with a higher risk of cardiovascular disease and diabetes. There are metabolic disorders.
The white fat in your body is made from large droplets of fatty acids. The cells of brown fat are packed tightly with mitochondria, the powerhouse of all of our cells. Brown fat takes in excess sugar and fat and breaks them down for use as an energy source.
What does all of this have to do with getting cold?
When your body gets cold, it produces a hormone called norepinephrine. Brown fat has receptors for the norepinephrine and when these receptors sense that hormone, they signal the abundant mitochondria to crank out the energy production. That energy production process creates heat to help regulate your body temperature.
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