Fat-to-brain signaling . . . means what?

“Adipocyte glucocorticoid receptors mediate fat-to-brain signaling.”

That’s quite a mouthful. Any guesses as to what it means?

It’s the title of a report from a study that describes the way our body fat works to signal our brains to deal with a stress response, which includes an effect on the metabolism. The study apparently found that too much fat interferes with that signaling ability.

The study was done on monkeys, but there’s a pretty good chance that it works the same way on humans.

In other words, another effect of weight gain due to extra fat is to mess with our stress response and our metabolism both—we may have suspected as much, but now they are beginning to figure out one of the mechanisms for making that happen.

Here’s a caveat: I haven’t read the report itself yet, because these reports are no longer so easily available as they used to be (the journals want to get paid, even though the research is usually publicly funded) which is one of my pet peeves.

A little background: this is news partly because although we know the brain signals the body, finding signals going the other way is pretty new.

I suspect there will be more discoveries like this. We’ve heard recently that the vagus nerve is a two way street for signals, and that we have taste buds in our guts, for example.

What does this latest doscovery mean for us? Well, my first thought is that finding out excess weight makes it harder to deal with stress is stressful. But then, anyone who has struggled to lose excess weight already knows this on some level, right?

Let’s just call it motivation, and focus on ways to strengthen our ability to handle stressors while we keep on focusing on whatever helps us stay healthy. In other words, reframe this stress as a healthy response to a challenge that we’ve already accepted.

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