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Limited numbers of Fat Cells

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Old 02-01-2007, 04:49 PM   #1
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Default Limited numbers of Fat Cells

I just read that one's number of fat cells is set in your teens, and you don't grow any more after that. As one gains weight, the fat cells just fill up more and more. The book showed a microscopic picture of full fat cells swollen up like ticks.

Apparently, when one's fat cells fill up finally and there is no more room- they send out a signal that causes insulin resistance in the body.

Now, insulin is the "fat building" hormone, as well as the key to getting glucose into cells. When one's insulin levels are up after a meal, that is the signal for extra fat in the bloodstream to be packed away into fat cells.

There comes a time when the limited number of fat cells can hold no more. They are FULL. In self defense, the fat cells cause the whole body to become insulin resistant. They can't take any more fat- so that's how it has to be. They have to become insulin resistant.

Unfortunately, this also closes the door to glucose as well, and as the other cells start to starve the body starts increasing insulin production in order to get that glucose into the cells. Which increases the fat cell's efforts to be insulin resistant. Which blocks the glucose from entering the other cells and raises blood sugar.

Which is why type II diabetics HAVE to lose weight and empty those fat cells in order to decrease the insulin resistance. Because if you just keep going- producing more and more insulin- your pancreas will eventually burn out and you'll be a type I insulin dependant diabetic as well.

What was VERY interesting, though, was what my husband said when I told him this. He immediately figured out why he's diabetic when he's only 15 lbs overweight, something that has puzzled me for a while now. (OK, he was 30 lbs over when he first hit critical- but that's really not a lot. Certainly not obese in a 6' 2" heavily muscled guy!)

He was an athlete in high school and college. A swimmer to be precise. When I first met him, he had an extremely low body fat percentage of around 3-4%. He could not float in a pool, he was that lean. He stayed that way into his early 20's.

So, his fat cell population was set at an extremely low level. It didn't take much weight for him to reach his limit and for the fat cells to start putting out the "FULL" signal of insulin resistance.

That's why he's becoming a type II diabetic without being obese, or even very overweight. He doesn't have many fat cells, as the formative years were spent as a very, very lean person.

The book I'm reading right now is called, "Why Zebras don't get Ulcers" and despite the title and the dancing zebras on the cover- it is no light read. It's all about the biochemical changes your body undergoes during stress and how that contributes to disease. Fascinating and well written. It was in this book, rather than the diabetes specific books, that I finally understood the relationship between fat and diabetes. There are also details about how stress increases certain chemicals and makes the above reactions even worse- but I need to re-read that bit before I really understand it. It's a good blend of humor and technical detail and insightful comments. An excellent book.

Anyway, I thought it was interesting, how when your fat cells fill up- you start getting ill. Those of us with more fat cells have more leeway before an actual system malfunction happens. Those who were skinny teens and young adults can start to get seriously sick much sooner, weight-wise.
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Old 02-01-2007, 04:54 PM   #2
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I've heard that your number of fat cells are set, but I've also heard that some scientists believe that you actually can gain more/new fat cells if you gain a huge amount of weight in a short period of time.
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Old 02-01-2007, 04:57 PM   #3
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I've also read that once you've filled up your fat cells that you will indeed grow more.
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Old 02-01-2007, 05:16 PM   #4
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In the You book, the Dr.s say we have only a set amount of fat cells, but we can (and do) stretch them out and they have a hard time shrinking back to the size they are supposed to be. Even when we have lost weight, they are always wanting to fill back up - so we have to be diligent especially after weight loss to keep them the smaller size.
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Old 02-01-2007, 05:44 PM   #5
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In the You book, the Dr.s say we have only a set amount of fat cells, but we can (and do) stretch them out and they have a hard time shrinking back to the size they are supposed to be. Even when we have lost weight, they are always wanting to fill back up - so we have to be diligent especially after weight loss to keep them the smaller size.
yep because other than liposuction they cant be removed. So for life you are stuck with hungry cells.
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Old 02-01-2007, 06:38 PM   #6
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Prior to reading this book, I was under the impression that we only formed new fat cells in our teens and during pregnancy. The author of the book I read didn't mention pregnancy, so I don't know if that still applies or not.

I wonder how close my fat cells were to filling up before I started losing? My health hadn't suffered yet, except for joint pains.
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Old 02-01-2007, 07:15 PM   #7
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It used to be believed that we only had a set number of fat cells. Research in the past 10 years has proven that we can grow additional fat cells, although the only way we can get rid of them is through liposuction. In particular, Johns Hopkins did a study where they caused stem cells to differentiate into fat cells in the presence of a certain protein.
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Old 02-01-2007, 07:32 PM   #8
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This is a very interesting thread! Thanks everyone for all the information. Now you have me curious to find out more!

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Old 02-02-2007, 11:44 AM   #9
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fiddler,
do you have any links to any articles or info on that? I told my boss my little epiphany today and he told me it was absolutely absurd to believe that fat cell numbers are limited. I was too embarrassed to demand proof of him, but I would love to see something in print about the invalidity of the limited fat cell numbers theory.
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Old 02-02-2007, 12:00 PM   #10
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fiddler,
do you have any links to any articles or info on that? I told my boss my little epiphany today and he told me it was absolutely absurd to believe that fat cell numbers are limited. I was too embarrassed to demand proof of him, but I would love to see something in print about the invalidity of the limited fat cell numbers theory.

Hmmm... is your boss a dietician? A human body research scientist? A fat-cell expert? "absolutely absurd to believe that fat cell numbers are limited" - HUMPH! -that sounds like an insult!

Everything I've ever read & every doctor I've ever spoken with has said the same thing: WE HAVE A LIMITED NUMBER OF FAT CELLS. THOSE CELLS CAN GROW OR SHRINK. LIPOSUCTION WILL LESSEN THE NUMBER OF FAT CELLS BY LITERALLY SUCKING THEM OUT OF YOUR BODY. BUT YOU CAN GET FAT AGAIN BECAUSE OTHER FAT CELLS CAN EXPAND (grow).

So there! -Tell your boss I said go suck a lolly pop & shut his hole!
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Old 02-02-2007, 04:49 PM   #11
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Thanks, Beach Patrol , but he was right. I thought he might be. He's a genius level scientist with a PhD and deeply interested diet, nutrition and human physiology. So, I take what he says about these things seriously. I spent the morning on the net (yes, at work! :P ) and read lots of scientific documents on Pub Med and other places, and ... well... this site has the clearest explanations about fat formation. http://classes.aces.uiuc.edu/AnSci31...e/Adiplect.htm

From what I've gathered, most fat cells are formed before maturity, but that we can always grow more, albeit slowly, from the precurser cells called preadipocytes. That's why you can see many different sizes of fat cells growing together side by side. Here's a diagram showing the stages of fat cell formation:



You've got the oldest, fullest ones that are "hypertrophied" and the medium sized ones and the little bitty new cells that have just been transformed into fat cells and only have little droplets of lipids in them.

I suspect that the author of the book I was reading was half right. If people can only make new fat cells slowly, and most of their existing cells are full, and there's at lot of food needing to be stored as fat- then you will have a lot of hormones being emitted from the hypertrophied cells that creates insulin resistance- despite there being new little cells being created to handle the excess, because they aren't big enough to help with the work load yet.

It makes sense to me... but the idea hinges on the slowness of fat cell formation and how the body handles the crisis of too much food and nowhere left to store it. And I don't know enough to say whether those two assumptions are accurate or not.

But, it really does seem to be accepted that you can grow more fat cells. Otherwise, the morbidly obese would have fat cells the size of golf balls, and that would have made the news, I'd think!
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Old 02-02-2007, 05:12 PM   #12
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Quote:
Originally Posted by MariaOfColumbia View Post
fiddler,
do you have any links to any articles or info on that? I told my boss my little epiphany today and he told me it was absolutely absurd to believe that fat cell numbers are limited. I was too embarrassed to demand proof of him, but I would love to see something in print about the invalidity of the limited fat cell numbers theory.
Here you go, Maria. Take some No-Doze before you read the second one

http://scq.ubc.ca/?p=585

http://ajpregu.physiology.org/cgi/co...ll/275/6/R1898
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Old 02-05-2007, 12:10 PM   #13
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thanks
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Old 02-05-2007, 03:03 PM   #14
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Thanks, Beach Patrol , but he was right. I thought he might be. He's a genius level scientist with a PhD and deeply interested diet, nutrition and human physiology.
Well shoot fuzzy fire! Maybe I should go suck on a lolly pop & shut MY hole, eh?
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Old 02-05-2007, 03:20 PM   #15
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I love my fat cells--like every other cell in my body they are doing what they are supposed to do, given the conditions they find themselves in. I apologize to them deeply for making them get all hypertrophic like that. I hope they will not mind that it's time for them to shrink again.

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