Friday, 27 July 2012

Spice Yourself Thin

Experiments in rodents show that the colder it is, the more energy they burn off as their body seeks to maintain body temperature.  There is intriguing evidence that spicy foods activate nerve receptors that trigger the same brain response as being cold does as reported by New Scientist,
  • Experiments in rodents have shown that the colder it is, the more energy they burn off in this way to produce heat.

    As babies, we also use this system to produce heat. But there is increasing evidence that many adults retain enough active brown fat, or adipose tissue, to do it too. [Investigator
    Andy Whittle at the University of Cambridge], reckons this process is controlled by the brain, which orders the extra burning of fat in brown adipose tissue when it gets cold.

    Recent research has revealed that spicy food - such as cinnamon or capsaicin in chilli peppers - can activate nerve receptors in the skin, gut and mouth, triggering the same brain response as being cold does.

    Whittle's colleague Maarten Soeters cites findings from Japan published this year showing that men with active brown adipose tissue burn more energy than normal when given capsules of capsinoid compounds, similar to capsaicin (American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, DOI: 10.3945/ajcn.111.018606).

    Now, Whittle is hoping to see if a mixture of ingredients like capsaicin can trick the brain into thinking it is cold, and coax brown adipose tissue into burning just a little more fat than normal, helping people to lose weight over years. He is keeping the exact ingredients secret for now.
I don't generally do spice (not since my vegetarian days), but it might be time to break out Dave's Insanity Sauce one again!

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