Your Metabolism Is Triggered By Light — Here’s Why
Your fat cells get seasonal depression too. Find out why your metabolism is triggered by light.
When winter rolls around, we’re usually a little less prone to workout. Blame the cold or the weather, but the hibernation mode is real when it comes to our mood to be able to exercise. Usually, we blame this time of year for any winter weight we might gain, but there might be another issue affecting our bodies. New research has just discovered another excuse to get out in the sun (even if it’s cold) and get a walk-in. Researcher Richard A. Lang’s study found that exposure to natural sunlight actually regulate how fat cells work together.
How Fat Cells Can Sense The Absence Of Sunlight
Basically, certain light helps burn fat and make your metabolism work. The study, done by Lang at the Cincinnati Children’s Hospital, was intended to look at how mice responded to cold temperatures, with the knowledge that humans and mice both burn fat when cold. According to MindBodyGreen, “things took a turn when researchers discovered that one particular wavelength of light resulted in white fat cells releasing fatty acids into the bloodstream, allowing all types of other cells to use that fat for energy. What happened, they found, is the light-triggered a gene called OPN3 to prompt the fat cells to release fatty acids.”
Apparently, researchers noticed that the mice couldn’t burn fat well without this light. Even artificial light did not help. The function of fat burning only existed with natural sunlight. Richard Lang stated that “This idea of light penetration into deep tissue is very new, even to many of my scientific colleagues. But we and others have been finding light-sensing genes located in a variety of tissue types. This is still just the beginning.” The type of light is a 480-nanometer wavelength of blue light and for now, you can pretty much get it only through sunshine. The researchers concluded that sunlight is necessary for normal energy metabolism in mice. We have a very similar genetic composition. Interestingly enough, we spend so much time under artificial light now that is so different from that of our ancestors. Could it be why our body composition is so opposite now?
What Does It All Mean?
This research could mean that instead of a body wrap, you could be spending an hour under blue light. Lang says that “Our modern lifestyle subjects us to unnatural lighting spectra, exposure to light at night, shift work, and jet lag, all of which result in metabolic disruption,” Lang adds. “It is possible that insufficient stimulation of the light-OPN3 adipocyte pathway is part of an explanation for the prevalence of metabolic deregulation.”
While the findings only apply to mice right now, Richard Lang sees potential. Maybe future research comparing light and metabolism. The possible cures for things like diabetes or aiding metabolic syndrome. Regardless, he says your biggest takeaway should be to get out more and exercise. There’s promising research that’s saying it could be the next big wave in wellness. While you’re here, check out how long it really takes to see results from your workout.
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