The Fat Cell 3: The Lipid Droplet
The Efficient, Expandable Energy in the Cell
The Fat Cell 3: The Lipid Droplet
Even the words sound fat. ‘Lipid droplet,’ rich and round p’s and d’s, surrounded by the structure of the l’s and locked with the tight sound of t. The lipid droplet is the largest organelle within the fat cell, causing the fat cell (and when massed in the tissues, the human body) to expand or deflate based on the quantity of TAGS (triacylglycerols or triglycerides) and sterol esters. TAGs are how energy is stored. Quite simply, TAGs are fat (a backbone of glycerol and three arms of fatty acids) and fat is the best way to store energy. It is easily oxidized and broken up, it is energy dense, and it does not need water to function. In fact, fat, also known as oil at a different temperature, does not mix with water at all.
There is a great deal that still needs to be learned about the lipid droplet, but for obvious reasons, such as national health, research is ramping up. Currently, studies show that lots of lipids in the body create a toxicity (lipotoxicity) in particular tissues/organs in which the presence of lipids are rare under normal conditions. The lipids interfere with the normal function; extra lipids in the heart, liver and pancreas directly result in various cardiovascular diseases, fatty liver disease, and/or Type II diabetes. It’s not just expanded storage that we’re lugging around. In the wrong places (and when there’s too much, it goes to the wrong places) it’s life-threatening.
Of course, we can go to the right places and avoid all that. There is fabulous food out there that is healthy and easy. I need easy. I don’t think about food much (I am quite capable of eating a lot of it but it is not something I think about). I like researching a food’s effect on the body or its history or a plant's physiology, including all its fascinating interactions within the environment. I like working in the garden too. Herbs are my favorite. But thinking about what’s for dinner is just annoying. We are all different. I’m the opposite of a foodie (there should be a word for that), the opposite of Kathryn who actually thinks about what to have for dinner to the benefit of her family. Obviously excess weight spreads across personality types.
In the next year, I want to find simple, healthy foods and develop the habit of eating them (almost) all the time. For example, this week, I discovered little gourmet potatoes. Pop two in the microwave for two minutes, open them up, toss a little salt on them. Easy. Filling. Healthy. Good to go.
I’m down 1.6 lbs. for a total of 3.6 lbs.; weighing in at 93.4 lbs. Like Kathryn, I took a “ditch-it” meal this week (one down, nine to go within the next year), because a friend who is a great cook and generous to a fault plied me and my son with leftovers. Everything had cheese. It was hopeless to forego it. I didn't even try. And as predicted, it was heaven, to die for. At least it would be if I ate it all the time according to the literature but every once in awhile is OK? Yes because I am making lifestyle changes, not slavishly sticking to a set of rules. Turning down that meal would have felt bad on about six different levels.
However, I also found Fusabowl’s hibachi bowl with brown rice, lots of veggies, tofu and ginger sauce. Topped with fresh ginger, it had a fabulous tang. It’s on the acceptable list and just as delicious. Almost. I now know which "fast food" place to stop when I am out.
I still lost a little weight this week, despite my 'ditch-it' meal, and I found a fast 15-minute video I like - except for the portion where they hit the floor (yes, it’s good for the abs but not for the back and I don’t like using the floor without a mat). I forgave the floor portion of it and danced freestyle (to the delight of my two year old granddaughter who joined in) because the rest of the video was just too much darn fun (just as they promised).
Yi Guo, Kimberly R. Cordes, Robert V. Farese, Tobias C. Walther; Lipid droplets at a glance. J Cell Sci 15 March 2009; 122 (6): 749–752. doi: https://doi.org/10.1242/jcs.037630
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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