Fat. Friend or Foe?

Fat. Friend or Foe?

The complicated relationship that we as humans have with fat is one that has lots of strands and interests.

Our cultural referencing tends to create the idea that fat is a bad thing and certainly the link between obesity and poor health is one that has mileage.  Obesity in isolation as a health risk tends to do what all these arguments do, which is to set aside accompanying factors.

Being fat is no longer the domain of the wealthy, with fat jolly upper class gentlemen depicted in Dickensian novels as the ruling classes, contrasting with the poor, wraith like creatures of the slums.

Fat has therefore sociological aspects to be considered as well as dietary.  The rise of sugar consumption being parallel to that of obesity seems fairly obvious, yet the link remains associative rather than causative.

Nutritional science has little in the way of consensus and there is wide spread disagreement relating to even the most basic ideas of how much and what type of fat should be in our daily diet.   Similarly ideas about weight, fat distribution within the body and what type of exercise is best for you, still contradict themselves on a daily basis.

Then there is the ‘burn belly fat,’ websites that scream at you to buy their most scientific finding of utter rubbish.  My personal self loathing is my fat wrists and I am therefore under a strict exercise and diet regime aimed at burning the fat at the bottom of my arms.

The terms we use for fat are also something of a misnomer.  Superficial fascia is something that could more agreeably used to describe the tissue found directly beneath the skin.  There seems to be an idea that this is a tissue that is simply a fatty layer and therefore undesirable wherever it may be.

Adipose, superficial fascia, the pannicular layer are all terms that cover the same tissue.  Recent attempts to classify the superficial fascia as having separate layers, with one more defined as distinct from the fascia cutis is interesting.

However the studies undertaken have only looked at the layer around the abdomen and attempts to classify the whole body based on such a small area of study would seem a little ambitious.

In this video of fresh abdominal superficial fascia, you can see that there is a weaving of collagenous like tissue (no samples were taken) through the fatty layer.

 

This is consistent throughout all the dissections I have been in, with the superficial fascia a continuous structure that running around the whole body.  This theory has never been more clearly demonstrated than by the unique approach taken by Gil Hedley, whereby the skin and superficial fascia is removed from the underlying deep fascial layer and laid side by side as below.

Some areas are of course thicker than others, but the principle is consistent.  Even if you were to take all the fat away from this layer, then the fibrous content would remain.

Published with kind permission of Gil Hedley. www.gilhedley.com

The principle of fat containment within fascia is the same as that of muscle containment within fascia and obeys a basic biological principal: you cannot have cells without something to hold them in place.  In the case of  both the muscle and the fat, the container is the connective tissue we know as fascia.

 

In addition we know that adipose itself has a major role to play in the functioning of the body, with evidence suggesting that adipose might even function as an endocrine organ.

The debate about what to call it, what it does, as well as a clear understanding of how it gets there, genetically as well as environmentally, will no doubt continue for some time to come. In the meantime our battle with the bulge will no doubt continue, profitably for many and miserably for many more.

Rock ‘n Roll Pensioners Gather No Moss

Rock ‘n Roll Pensioners Gather No Moss

Stone Me!
This weekend saw me revisit some old friends.  I say friends because I feel like I know them, even though they don’t have a clue who I am.
In fact you probably know them too as The Rolling Stones.  I had been in California last year to see them at an event called Desert Trip, where the combined ages of the performers, who included The Who, Bob Dylan, the aforementioned stones, Paul McCartney and several more reached well above a thousand.
Watching Charlie Watts on the big screen my wife and I quipped about what he was thinking.  “Ooh I could murder a cup of tea and a biscuit.”  “I hope the missus has recorded Corrie”.
With his silver hair and brilliantly expensive white teeth, he also sat bolt upright at the drums, with a composure and dignity that many of half his age would die for.
Born in 1941 Charlie Watts will be 77 next year and with Ronnie Wood being the baby of the band at 70, you have to ask, how do they do it?  Keith Richards has, over the years consumed several times his own weight in recreational drugs and still starts every day with a joint.
The fact that they have survived as long as they have is remarkable, but that they still tour regularly and energetically makes you ask, “what is it that they are doing right.?”
I suspect that the answer lies in the manner in which they live their life and the passion to which do their work.  Being multi millionaires doesn’t hurt of course, as money is the key element to longevity the world over.
But watching them all on the stage the other night, it was clear that they all still get a terrific buzz from what they do.  The sheer joy that they exude is not something you can fake and from start to finish they did nothing but entertain at full pace.
There aren’t many of us who will have the opportunity to experience the adrenaline rush of playing to 60,000 adoring fans, but perhaps the secret to a long life is to live a life where you experience fulfilment of a passion.
On top of that, not one of them stopped moving for over two hours on stage.  Mick Jagger moves as a 74 year old more fluidly than I could hope for at 54 and probably hits his 10,00 step target in one show.  Following him on Instagram, he is regularly posting videos of his dance workouts and training and seeing him live you know he’s not faking it.
“When you rest you rust,” my Auntie Joan used to say to me.  Until her death at 89 she shouted at squirrels, me and the cat and got out into the garden every day if only to see what the gardener had done wrong.
I live lived to the full is a life lived. Move every day, find a passion.  Mick and the boys are living proof of its effects.