Don’t want to put on weight as you get older? Just try sweet chili peppers and cold spells

Scientists say exposure to moderately cold temperatures and a chemical found in chilies have been shown to boost levels of ‘brown fats’ linked to staving off weight gain

Scientists have discovered that prolonged exposure to cold temperatures and eating chili peppers can help to prevent people putting on weight as they get older.

In a ground-breaking study from Japan, it has been shown that both cold and a chemical found in the peppers have similar effects in building up levels of BAT (brown adipose tissue), which helps regulate the way the body expends energy.

BAT is a kind of tissue that exists in all babies, found around the neck and chest, but which gradually breaks down as adults get older. This rate varies between people, and previous studies have proven there is a link between BAT levels dropping off and age-related weight-gain setting in.

This is the first time anyone has been able to prove BAT levels can be made to recover once lost. Scientists exposed test subjects to moderately low temperatures, around 17°C, for two hours every day over six weeks.

When compared to a control group that went about their lives as normal, those subjected to cold showed increased levels of BAT – and also lost around 5 per cent of their body fat.

While this might seem a fairly obvious outcome as the test subjects’ bodies work harder to keep warm, what was really surprising was the similar effect on BAT of consuming “capsinoids”, found predominantly in sweet chili peppers.

Capsinoids have been shown to activate temperature sensors in the gut – similar to the way hot-tasting chilies impact sensors in the mouth.

Those studied who ate large quantities of peppers were also seen to experience increases in BAT tissue – though they didn’t, yet, lose body fat. Researchers speculated that a longer study would likely show genuine weight loss to go with the recovery of BAT.

Lead researcher and report author Takeshi Yoneshiro, from the Hokkaido University Graduate School of Medicine in Japan, said: “Our results showed that human BAT could be recruited even in individuals who had lost BAT, thereby contributing to body fat reduction. This is the first report of successful recruitment of BAT leading to reduced body fat in humans.”

He added that capsinoids appear to induce so-called “brown fat” in the same way as cold by “capturing” the same cellular system that the body’s nervous system uses to increase heat production.

The study was published in the Journal of Clinical Investigation.

PROMOTED VIDEO
Life and Style
ebookNow available in paperback
ebooks
ebookPart of The Independent’s new eBook series The Great Composers
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

ES Rentals

    Independent Dating
    and  

    By clicking 'Search' you
    are agreeing to our
    Terms of Use.

    iJobs Job Widget
    iJobs General

    Recruitment Genius: Account Manager

    £20000 - £35000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This full service social media ...

    Recruitment Genius: Data Analyst - Online Marketing

    £24000 - £35000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: We are 'Changemakers in retail'...

    Austen Lloyd: Senior Residential Conveyancer

    Very Competitive: Austen Lloyd: Senior Conveyancer - South West We are see...

    Austen Lloyd: Residential / Commercial Property Solicitor

    Excellent Salary: Austen Lloyd: DORSET MARKET TOWN - SENIOR PROPERTY SOLICITOR...

    Day In a Page

    Isis in Iraq: Yazidi girls killing themselves to escape rape and imprisonment by militants

    'Jilan killed herself in the bathroom. She cut her wrists and hanged herself'

    Yazidi girls killing themselves to escape rape and imprisonment
    Ed Balls interview: 'If I think about the deficit when I'm playing the piano, it all goes wrong'

    Ed Balls interview

    'If I think about the deficit when I'm playing the piano, it all goes wrong'
    He's behind you, dude!

    US stars in UK panto

    From David Hasselhoff to Jerry Hall
    Grace Dent's Christmas Quiz: What are you – a festive curmudgeon or top of the tree?

    Grace Dent's Christmas Quiz

    What are you – a festive curmudgeon or top of the tree?
    Nasa planning to build cloud cities in airships above Venus

    Nasa planning to build cloud cities in airships above Venus

    Planet’s surface is inhospitable to humans but 30 miles above it is almost perfect
    Surrounded by high-rise flats is a little house filled with Lebanon’s history - clocks, rifles, frogmen’s uniforms and colonial helmets

    Clocks, rifles, swords, frogmen’s uniforms

    Surrounded by high-rise flats is a little house filled with Lebanon’s history
    Return to Gaza: Four months on, the wounds left by Israel's bombardment have not yet healed

    Four months after the bombardment, Gaza’s wounds are yet to heal

    Kim Sengupta is reunited with a man whose plight mirrors the suffering of the Palestinian people
    Gastric surgery: Is it really the answer to the UK's obesity epidemic?

    Is gastric surgery really the answer to the UK's obesity epidemic?

    Critics argue that it’s crazy to operate on healthy people just to stop them eating
    Homeless Veterans appeal: Christmas charity auction Part 2 - now LIVE

    Homeless Veterans appeal: Christmas charity auction

    Bid on original art, or trips of a lifetime to Africa or the 'Corrie' set, and help Homeless Veterans
    Pantomime rings the changes to welcome autistic theatre-goers

    Autism-friendly theatre

    Pantomime leads the pack in quest to welcome all
    The week Hollywood got scared and had to grow up a bit

    The week Hollywood got scared and had to grow up a bit

    Sony suffered a chorus of disapproval after it withdrew 'The Interview', but it's not too late for it to take a stand, says Joan Smith
    From Widow Twankey to Mother Goose, how do the men who play panto dames get themselves ready for the performance of a lifetime?

    Panto dames: before and after

    From Widow Twankey to Mother Goose, how do the men who play panto dames get themselves ready for the performance of a lifetime?
    Thirties murder mystery novel is surprise runaway Christmas hit

    Thirties murder mystery novel is surprise runaway Christmas hit

    Booksellers say readers are turning away from dark modern thrillers and back to the golden age of crime writing
    Anne-Marie Huby: 'Charities deserve the best,' says founder of JustGiving

    Anne-Marie Huby: 'Charities deserve the best'

    Ten million of us have used the JustGiving website to donate to good causes. Its co-founder says that being dynamic is as important as being kind
    The botanist who hunts for giant trees at Kew Gardens

    The man who hunts giants

    A Kew Gardens botanist has found 25 new large tree species - and he's sure there are more out there