Fat Cells Think They’re Infected

Fat cells don’t just sit around and calmly store energy. They get excited when they’re stimulated by an overweight person eating high-calorie food, becoming inflamed and reacting as if they’re fighting off an infection in the body. That’s the disturbing report in Cell Metabolism today from The Methodist Hospital lead investigator Dr. Willa Hsueh and her team.

If you’ve ever wondered just why being fat is bad for your health, the new research may provide a clue. Hsueh explained in Medical Xpress:

“Adipocytes [fat cells] don’t just rely on local resident immune cells for protection —- they play a very active role in their own defense. And that’s not always a good thing.”

Instead of being soothed by so-called comfort food, the study suggested that fat cells react to being fed high-calorie goodies as if they were under attack. Behaving as if they’re infected, the fat cells in the patient become — and remain — inflamed.

Although “inflammation” is a bit of a medical buzzword these days, it’s considered a normal and important part of your body’s immune response. According to Medical News Today:

“Our infections, wounds and any damage to tissue would never health without inflammation – tissue would become more and more damaged and the body, or any organism, would eventually perish.”

However, a healing inflammation should be a temporary process. Chronic inflammation means that the body is under a continued stress that eventually promotes disease rather than healing.

And that’s the problem. By eating fatty foods, the obese victims continued to unwittingly excite and inflame their own fat cells.

So what’s the takeaway? We know that it’s very difficult for someone who’s already obese to fight the urge to consume fatty foods. A previous The Inquistr report by Nathan Francis explained that many health authorities think that junk food is genuinely addictive, producing drug-like cravings when you try to stop consuming it.

If we can’t resist yummy junk food, then how we can stem the obesity epidemic when our own fat cells are working against us?

Dr. Hsueh’s group would like to ultimately seek a possible treatment for the exaggerated immune response they observed. Could it be possible to develop a medicine that stops the fat cells from acting like they’re infected?