American culture promotes the idea that, when it comes to body fat, less is always better. In fact, some people practically think of it as evil or sinful. Considering how common this view is, you may be surprised to learn that this is pretty far from the truth.
Believe it or not, there is nothing inherently bad about body fat. On the contrary, body fat is essential to a balanced life. It performs numerous important functions in our bodies. Let’s look at a few of those functions and consider body fat from a more logical point of view.
1. Body Fat Provides Insulation
One of the main things fat does for our bodies is keep them warm. Body fat behaves like insulation and prevents heat loss. Preventing heat loss means greater efficiency, so, thanks to fat, we don’t have to work too hard to stay warm.
2. Part of Your Body’s Heating System
Body fat is also capable of generating heat on its own. Therefore, if we lose too much fat, we may find ourselves shivering all the time as our bodies search for other ways to keep us warm.
3. Organ Protector
Our internal organs are fragile, and they depend on body fat for protection. Vital organs, such as the heart and the kidneys, are surrounded by a cushion-like layer of fat. Without this protection, our organs would be more vulnerable to injury or damage.
4. Important Energy Source
Body fat is also an efficient place to store energy. Thanks to stored fat, we have enough energy to survive even when we can’t access food right away.
5. Immune System Helper
Fat cells produce substances like hormones and proteins. In this way, it contributes to the complement system, which is part of the immune system that keeps us from getting sick. Fat cells also make special proteins that help clot blood if we become injured.
6. Component of Healthy Brain Cells
Even our brains depend on fat. Myelin, which provides insulation for the electrical signals of our brain cells, is made of fat, for example. Body fat is also a very important part of cell membranes, both in the brain and in other parts of the body.
7. Body Fat Is a Source of Hormones
One of the most amazing discoveries about fat cells is that they contribute to endocrine system function by producing hormones.1 Hormones like estrogen and cortisol could not be produced without the help of enzymes from fat cells. Additionally, some essential hormones are actually made up of fatty substances.
8. Bone Marrow
One recent discovery about body fat is its relation to bone marrow, which makes new blood cells. It turns out that losing body fat has a negative impact on bone marrow.2 As a result, the body can’t make new blood cells as well.
From a scientific point of view, body fat doesn’t look nearly as bad as American culture makes it out to be. The truth is that body fat is necessary for a balanced body. The idea that less fat is better is an unfair, culturally based myth.
Body fat is not our enemy.