Exercise hormone sheds fat, ‘helps people stay slender’

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IF you are lacking in motivation to exercise this fall, some research led by a University of Florida researcher may inspire you to jump-start your fitness regimen. According to the new study, while exercising, a hormone is released that not only helps the body shed fat, but also prevents it from forming. More regular exercise produces more irisin, which could help with fat reduction, stronger bones, and better cardiovascular health.
A professor of cell biology and a team at Harvard Medical School discovered the hormone dubbed “irisin” in 2012. They isolated the natural hormone from muscle cells that trigger some of the health-promoting properties of exercise, which, they say, could be developed into novel treatments for diabetes, obesity, and cancer.
In the previous study, the Harvard-affiliated team also found that as irisin levels rise through exercise, the hormone switches on genes that convert white fat into brown fat – the “good” fat. This conversion is beneficial, as brown fat burns off more excess calories than exercise alone.
Dr. Li-Jun Yang, a professor of hematopathology in the Department of Pathology, Immunology and Laboratory Medicine at the University of Florida College of Medicine, directed the new research.
Dr. Yang and colleagues aimed to understand the role of irisin in humans better and increase the knowledge base of how the hormone helps convert calorie-storing white fat cells into energy-burning brown fat cells.
The researchers note that they believe the research to be the first of its kind to explore irisin’s effects on human fat tissue and fat cells.
According to the researchers, irisin hormone – which surges when the heart and other muscles are exerted – may also inhibit the formation of fatty tissue.
The study findings, published in the American Journal of Physiology – Endocrinology and Metabolism, confirms previous conclusions that irisin may be a promising target to support people with obesity and type 2 diabetes. Irisin works via a mechanism that boosts the activity of genes and a protein that are crucial to turning white fat cells into brown fat cells. The researchers also found irisin to have a role in burning fat by significantly increasing the amount of energy used by brown fat cells. Dr. Yang and team conducted the research by collecting fat cells donated by 28 participants who had undergone breast reduction surgery.

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