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The Fat Cell 1: What is a Fat Cell?

Introducing the Fat Cell and Two Women Who are Being Held Hostage Within It.

By D. Thea BaldrickPublished 10 months ago Updated 9 months ago 3 min read
The Fat Cell 1: What is a Fat Cell?
Photo by Tim Hüfner on Unsplash

The fat cell, which is also known by the more respectable alias, ‘adipocyte’, looks like a water balloon almost completely filled with fat in the form of a lipid droplet. Embedded on top of the droplet is the nucleus, nestled as a mob boss amongst his ill-gotten gains. Tiny flecks, organelles of the cell, mill around the nucleus, as lackeys tend to do around the boss.

Like most kingpins, the nucleus rules. Depending on the needs of the larger organism (you, me, your cat or the earthworm in your garden), the cell’s nucleus receives information, and after a few twists and turns, transcriptions and translations, materials appear based on the information received; materials that fall into categories like proteins or hormones or a truly absorbing array of other small molecules. Some of it streams out into the blood, thus alerting the body (yours, mine, your cat’s or the earthworm’s). The information the fat cell emits is huge, enough for many a mini-article like this one.

From Blausen.com staff (2014). "Medical gallery of Blausen Medical 2014". WikiJournal of Medicine 1 (2). DOI:10.15347/wjm/2014.010. ISSN 2002-4436. - Own work

Identical to water balloon behavior, fat cells grow or shrink depending on the quantity of the substance within it. It shrinks by breaking up bits of the lipid molecule (lipolysis) and excreting them as fatty acids and glycerol into the bloodstream to be used as energy by the body. It grows by packing in more triglycerides. Both protein and carbohydrates, if not processed relatively quickly elsewhere in the body, end up adding triglycerides to the adipocyte. In other words, the fat cell gets fatter.

There is evidence that I may harbor a few fat fat cells myself. I like to think the jury is still out but it is not. Kathryn Wicker, a friend who finds herself similarly situated, and I are going on a journey together to regain our health (and our figures). We have many things in common; five decades of bibliophilia (which is a disease commonly known as reading too much), grown children and small grandchildren in whose lives we are lucky enough to be involved, a fiercely valued independence, and occasional bursts of enthusiasm for clearly brilliant ideas. We are both in our fifties although Kathryn is a little younger than I am for which I have managed to (not) forgive her.

More importantly, for the development of these articles, are our differences. Kathryn is an amazing cook. In addition, she cans a thousand jars of food every year. I mean, really, who does that?! I neither cook nor can, although she is inspiring me to try, but I spent a decade (just not this decade obviously) as a certified aerobics instructor, plus the ink is still drying on my Bachelors of Science in Biology with its official concentration on the smallest bits, cells and molecules.

We are combining our strengths to support each other and write a series of articles, fifty-two each, one a week for a year. She is covering the food. Her first article is “One Year Trying a Plant Based Diet - the start” is already live. This whole thing was her idea so there was no way she was going to weasel out of going first.

I am focusing on exercise and the science of metabolic syndrome. Metabolic syndrome, for those fortunate enough not to know, is a medical condition also known as being too fat for your own good.

As for the lipid-filled water balloons, what are water balloons for but to lob at your friends? These won’t break, but according to the literature, our determined effort will cause them to wither in self-defense. We will see.

Sigh. Here’s the hard part. I am 5’10” and weighing in at 197 lbs. Something has to be wrong with the scale.

bodydietfitnesshealthhumanitylifestylescienceweight losswellness

About the Creator

D. Thea Baldrick

By wedding two strange bedfellows, bachelor degrees in Biology and Literature, the resulting chimeric offspring are stories laced with science. I publish with thecollector.com and Underland Arcana. Unearth at dthea.com

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  • D. Thea Baldrick (Author)9 months ago


  • Kathryn Wicker9 months ago

    I love how you describe the science behind what we are doing!

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