As commonly observed that despite our all efforts to stay thin and lean, we gain some extra pounds during the holiday season. Why is that? A new study has a surprising answer for you. Let’s just explore it.
Plenty of us has already been through this holiday weight gaining phenomenon. But it is also true that during our holidays we have more opportunities for eating something delicious that is obviously high in calories. Some studies show that during the winter season especially we put on extra pounds despite our all efforts of losing weight, why is that?
A new study by researchers at the University of Alberta in Edmonton, Canada reveals an unexpected culprit of this weight gain phenomenon: the absence of sunlight.
The researchers from the Alberta Diabetes Institute led by Peter Light examined the effect on sunlight on subcutaneous (under the skin) fat cells or white cells.
The results of their study make this a breakthrough in this modern era and it was recently published in the Journal Scientific Reports.
How Does Sunlight help burn fat?
Peter and his team examined the behavior of so-called subcutaneous white adipose tissue (scWAT), which as the author explains, “is the major fat depot in human bodies and play a central role in regulating body’s metabolism.”
White fat is also known as “bad” type of fats because it tends to store calories that are ideally burned for energy. If dysfunctional, this type of fat can lead to cardiometabolic disorders such as obesity, diabetes and heart disease.
So, in an attempt to treat Type 1 Diabetes, Peter and his colleagues attempted to genetically engineer these white fat cells to produce insulin when exposed to light.
During their research, they discovered that these white fat cells shrink under the effect of the sun’s so-called “blue light”, a visible type of light that boosts mood and attention during the day.
To further test their accidental discovery, the scientists took samples of scWAT from patients undergoing weight loss surgery and examined the effect of sun’s blue light on these cells.
This is what they found,
“When the sun’s blue light wavelengths — the light we can see with our eye — penetrate our skin and reach the fat cells just beneath, lipid droplets reduce in size and are released out of the cell. In other words, our cells don’t store as much fat.”
Let’s explain winter weight gain:
“If you flip our findings around,” Light says, “the insufficient sunlight exposure we get 8 months of the year living in a northern climate may be promoting fat storage and contribute to the typical weight gain some of us have over winter.”
“It’s early days, but it’s not a giant leap to suppose that the light that regulates our circadian rhythm, received through our eyes, may also have the same impact through the fat cells near our skin,” he adds.
The findings may pave the way for new weight loss strategies or light-based therapies in the treatment of obesity and diabetes.
However, Light cautions against taking these findings too literally and pursuing sunlight exposure in order to lose weight, as there are still many variables that remain unknown.
“For example,” he explains, “we don’t yet know the intensity and duration of light necessary for this pathway to be activated.”
Additionally, he notes, “[T]here is a lot of literature out there suggesting our current generation will be more overweight than their parents and maybe this feeds into the debate about what is healthy sunshine exposure.”
Either way, this exciting discovery “certainly holds many fascinating clues for our team and others around the world to explore,” Light concludes.
Well, this exciting discovery may prove itself a great step forward towards various weight loss therapies. But still, there are other things to explore that is the intensity of light and the right duration. The researchers seem to carry out a new way to invade for the treatment of obesity-based diseases such as Type 2 Diabetes. The research if it works the right way for everyone will be a hallmark in all weight-loss recipes and therapies and workouts as well. All we got till now is a clue that sunlight burns white (bad) fat cells. Also, this is the reason why we gain much weight during winter is that exposure to sunlight is insufficient for white fat cells. All we get till now is a clue that sunlight actually burns our fat cells beneath the skin and help us maintain our health.
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