The People's Perspective on Medicine

Show 1068: What Do You Know about the Secret Life of Fat?

Why does your body defend its fat so fiercely? Dr. Tara reveals the secret life of fat and its many crucial connections to other organs.
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What Do You Know about the Secret Life of Fat?

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If you were to list the organs of the body, would it occur to you to include fat? Most people think of fat as a nuisance, an intruder or even an enemy to be overcome. But fat is crucial for normal physiological processes. What should you know about the secret life of fat?

Discovering the Secret Life of Fat:

Author Sylvia Tara is a biochemist who has been fascinated with fat. As she looked into its functions, she discovered it does much more than simply store energy. As it turns out, fat is metabolically and hormonally active. It communicates constantly with other cells in the body. How does it do that, and what are the results?

When Good Fat Goes Bad:

Find out how good fat can go bad and start to feed inflammation in the body. How do the microbes in our intestines affect our fat and its behavior? Fat cells also interact in important ways with the immune system, particularly with T cells. Is that what accounts for the “obesity paradox,” in which overweight people have better survival under certain stressful circumstances?

Dr. Tara reveals the secret life of fat and tells us about behavioral methods that can help us control how much fat we carry. What are the dangers of yo-yo dieting, and how can we avoid them?

This Week’s Guest:

Sylvia Tara holds a PhD in biochemistry fro the University of California at San Diego and an MBA from the Wharton School at the University of Pennsylvania. She is the author of The Secret Life of Fat: The Science Behind the Body’s Least Understood Organ and What It Means for You. The website is The photo of Dr. Tara was taken by Joshua Michael Shelton.

Listen to the Podcast:

The podcast of this program will be available the Monday after the broadcast date. The show can be streamed online from this site and podcasts can be downloaded for free for four weeks after the date of broadcast. After that time has passed, digital downloads are available for $2.99. CDs may be purchased at any time after broadcast for $9.99.

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About the Author
Terry Graedon, PhD, is a medical anthropologist and co-host of The People’s Pharmacy radio show, co-author of The People’s Pharmacy syndicated newspaper columns and numerous books, and co-founder of The People’s Pharmacy website. Terry taught in the Duke University School of Nursing and was an adjunct assistant professor in the Department of Anthropology. She is a Fellow of the Society of Applied Anthropology. Terry is one of the country's leading authorities on the science behind folk remedies. .
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very in depth most of which i had not heard before, as many PH podcast are. PH reports reliable info not heard elswhere. keep up the good work.

I enjoyed the program, this research is over do! I tried to access and download the pod cast, ended up with a $9.99 assessment, plus shipping, and shipping time. What happened to the down loadable pod cast? M

One of the great aggravations of people who are living with HIV is that of Lipodystrophy, specifically, the buildup of body fat around the gut. For which there is no cure. There is one, and only one, medication, Egrifta, which will treat the symptom, but it requires daily, expensive injections. The condition will return immediately after the injections are stopped. Diet and exercise helps, but only a little bit. It is a condition which, in turn, can bring about other obvious health problems, such as cardiac issues or diabetes.

I am encouraged by your author.

In today’s discussion of fat, periods of “fasting” were said to be useful for some people in controlling weight. “Fasting” was not defined, however, and I’m assuming that it means not eating solid food. It certainly cannot mean also not drinking anything, can it?

Thanks so much for today’s talk … secret life of fat. Learned so much.

Hi, I did about 29 courses in chemistry in school. In one biochemistry class we were doing turn over rates for the enzyme Ptyalin (alpha amylase). My lab partner asked if he could borrow my spit to do the experiment which I did give to him in a vial. His 1st results came up zero twice. He doesn’t have ptyalin, alpha amylase. He can never stop eating and does not gain weight. We need a Ptyalin blocker and there is some in white beans.

Yes, fat is important Because your brain needs fat You should never give low fat milk to a baby or a toddler. A baby or toddler below the age of 2 needs fat to form the central nervous system, the brain, and vision. Good fats such as butter, good quality oil and 3% milk.

I’m one chapter away from finishing this book. I’ve found it fascinating. I was still harboring some inaccurate ideas about fat, and am glad to have learned a lot more about what’s real and happening. I’m a nurse and have always been fascinated by our physiology, but this is more interesting — more personal! Very well written, I picked it up for reading in bed when I would usually pick up fiction, I enjoyed it so much. And, if you need to lose 20 lbs, as I do, it’s inspiring. I now understand there’s no one-way-suits-all to go about it.

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