The holidays may be infamous for causing you to gain weight, but new research is showing us it’s more than sweets that’s causing you to pack on the ponds.
Researchers from the University of Alberta in Edmonton, Canada have been examining the effect that sunlight has on subcutaneous fat cells (white fat cells directly underneath the skin).
And their shocking findings are revealing that a big culprit of that winter weight gain is… lack of sunlight.
According to researchers, this subcutaneous fat is a significant factor that affects the regulation of the entire body’s metabolism
The researchers also indicate that these cells store the “bad” fat, as they store calories that the body would ideally burn as calories.
If dysfunctional, this fat can easily lead to diabetes, obesity and heart disease.
In response to these dangers, the researchers were attempting to genetically engineer these fat cells so they would produce insulin when having exposure to light.
While conducting the study, the researchers made an interesting discovery. These cells began to shrink as soon as they were hit with blue light – aka the visible light that boosts attention and energy during the day.
As head researcher Peter Light said in Medical News Today:
“When the sun’s blue light wavelengths — the light we can see with our eye — penetrate our skin and reach the fat cells just beneath, lipid droplets reduce in size and are released out of the cell. In other words, our cells don’t store as much fat.”
“If you flip our findings around,” Light says, “the insufficient sunlight exposure we get 8 months of the year living in a northern climate may be promoting fat storage and contribute to the typical weight gain some of us have over winter.”
“It’s early days, but it’s not a giant leap to suppose that the light that regulates our circadian rhythm, received through our eyes, may also have the same impact through the fat cells near our skin.”