Researchers have found that fish oil transforms fat-storage cells into fat-burning cells, which may reduce weight gain in middle age.
The team explains in Scientific Reports that fish oil activates receptors in the digestive tract, fires the sympathetic nervous system, and induces storage cells to metabolize fat.
Fat tissues don’t all store fat. So-called “white” cells store fat in order to maintain energy supply, while “brown” cells metabolize fat to maintain a stable body temperature. Brown cells are abundant in babies but decrease in number with maturity into adulthood.
A third type of fat cell — “beige” cells — have recently been found in humans and mice, and have shown to function much like brown cells. Beige cells also reduce in number as people approach middle age; without these metabolizing cells, fat continues accumulating for decades without ever being used.
The scientists investigated whether the number of these beige cells could be increased by taking in certain types of foods.