Doctor's Note

What is brown adipose tissue? Check out my “prequel” video: Brown Fat: Losing Weight Through Thermogenesis

For more on the arginine story, see Fat Burning Via Arginine. The arginine may also play a role in the effects nuts may have on penile blood flow (Pistachio Nuts for Erectile Dysfunction).

Spicy food may also help with digestive disorders (Cayenne Pepper for Irritable Bowel Syndrome and Chronic Indigestion) and the hot pepper compound can be a lifesaver for cluster headache sufferers (Hot Sauce in the Nose for Cluster Headaches?).

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  • Darryl

    It’s long been known that those who exercise regularly have higher resting metabolism, and some compounds produced endogenously during exercise (β-aminoisobutyric acid, irisin and its precursor FNDC5) also upregulate uncoupled respiration and brown fat thermogenesis.

    While I favor Asian chili levels (I order “Thai hot” at my favorite restaurant), there’s potentially a dietary alternative for those who can’t take the heat. While capsaicin in chili targets our cellular heat sensor (TRPV1), menthol (the cooling compound in peppermint) targets our cold sensor TRPV8, and it too can upregulate uncoupling proteins and thermogenesis when fed to rodents 1 and added to human fat cells 2. To date, no human trials with dietary mint or menthol in weight loss have been reported, but genetic variations that increase TRPV8 sensitivity are associated with lower obesity and blood lipids 3, so it may be a worthwhile experiment.

    • Thea

      Darryl: So interesting and helpful!!! Thanks for this post!
      – from: hot food wimp

    • deb

      I love Thai hot too but it’s always dumbed down…. Regardless, I eat and eat and eat and I am very slim. Always thought it was my sensible diet. Now I know it’s the peppers. I eat a lot of Mexican too – jalapenos, habenaros etc…

    • Darryl

      Interesting paper from today: the capsaicin receptor TRPV1 is involved in mechanical stretch detection in the stomach.

    • Darryl

      New paper:

      Michlig S et al. 2016. Effects of TRP channel agonist ingestion on metabolism and autonomic nervous system in a randomized clinical trial of healthy subjects. Sci Rep. doi: 10.1038/srep20795

      Following cinnamaldehyde ingestion, energy expenditure was increased as compared to placebo. Furthermore, postprandial fat oxidation was maintained higher compared to placebo after cinnamaldehyde and capsaicin ingestion. Similar peripheral thermoregulation was observed after capsaicin and cinnamaldehyde ingestion. Unlike capsaicin, the dose of cinnamaldehyde was not judged to be sensorially ‘too intense’ by participants suggesting that Cinnamaldehyde would be a more tolerable solution

  • Gary Giovino

    Harvard researchers just reported increased longevity with consumption of spicy foods: http://www.hsph.harvard.edu/news/features/frequent-spicy-food-consumption-linked-with-lower-death-risk/

  • Letha

    Hi, sorry, but I’m not convinced…
    The 1st capsaicin article was conducted only on 15 people after a very strict selection process (stable weight for >6 months, no dieting, abituated to spicy food, normal BMI range…): http://journals.plos.org/plosone/article?id=10.1371/journal.pone.0067786
    and the 2nd article – was conducted on only 13 women: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/10211048

    This article, on the other hand: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/24267043 , also conducted on 11 men only, contrudicts the previous two, and seems to me just as valid.

    Then again, the meccanism suggested today is that of activation of beta-adrenergic receptors (of the sympathetic system) that is not in any way specific to capsaicin…
    Dr. Greger, I admire your work very much and am gratefull for what you’re doing on this site, but isn’t this video jumping to conclusions a little too soon with not enough reaserch to back it up?

    • Darryl

      Research on capsaicin and brown fat / mitochondrial uncoupling is still in its infancy. I’m aware of four small trials demonstrating increased metabolism with chili or capsaicin intake in humans (1, 2, 3, 4). These results are in accord with animal studies (5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12) and a couple of bench top mechanistic studies (13, 14). Given the discomfort many people experience with spicy food (even encapsulated capsaicin must exit), and animal welfare concerns, much of the work in humans (15, 16, 17, 18, 19, 20, 21) and animals (22, 23, 24, 25, 26, 27) has used non-pungent capsaicin analogues (capsinoids), and sweet red peppers bred for high capsinoid content. The capsinoids appear to act through another TRP receptor (TRPA1), but also increase uncoupling protein expression and energy expenditure.

    • Panchito

      This study explains a mechanism by which capsaicin reduces fat in high fat diets:

      http://www.biophysics.org/Portals/1/PDFs/Press%20Room/2015/release%205%20chili%20peppers%20Sun%20130.pdf

      “Capsaicin is a ‘chief agonist’ (initiator of a response) transient receptor potential Vanilloid 1 (TRPV1) channel protein”

      • Letha

        hi panchito,
        pls explain where did you find the meccanism in that doc? mecchanism = the pathway that links TRPV1 (a pain / extreme heat sensor) activation to increase in resting metabolic rate.

        It could’ve been, let’s say, that prolonged activation caused desensitization of the receptor.

        For now we know that in rodents and other species the antagonists (blockers), and not the agonists, of this receptor are the ones to cause hypertermia: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/17392452 (because there seems to be a tonic activation and once it’s blocked it seems to indicate that “it’s not hot enough”).
        example: AMG517 https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/18337008

        I was talking about something along the lines of: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/19497591

        We know that blocking TRPV1 causes hypertermia (and increases RMR); but there isn’t enough evidence, IMHO, to suggest that activating this receptor by regular capsaicin consumption will produce the same effect, until we see an article demonstrating desensibilization of the receptor and modeling of the body temp set point that follows.

        thx again

        • Panchito

          The description of the mechanism can be found here:

          http://www.cell.com/biophysj/fulltext/S0006-3495%2815%2900175-7

          Capsaicin Interaction with TRPV1 Channels in a Lipid Bilayer: Molecular Dynamics Simulation

          Introduction

          “…Capsaicin specifically activates the heat-sensitive transient receptor potential vanilloid subtype 1 (TRPV1) ion channel (4). Along with other members of the TRP channel family, known to play key
          roles in temperature sensation and other sensory functions (5)”

          PS: The above link was obtained from my first parent link under “Abstracts Issue” http://www.biophysics.org/2015meeting/Main/tabid/4837/Default.aspx

          • Letha

            This is a great article explaining the bondage cinetics, that still does not answer my question.
            I’ll read it again with more attention tomorrow, hoping to dig some clues as to how come an agonist, in the long run. gives us a antagonist acute-related effect.
            thx anyway for the great article and your time and effort.

          • Jasmin Jackson

            Thanks for sharing the article on men. Would be great to see some more research, and reminds me that men and women can react very differently to dietary interventions.

          • HereHere

            I appreciate the discussion and debate of the science. It does seem that such small samples/studies are hard to trust, and if there is one contradicting two similar studies, we should be skeptical. I think I know people who eat hot peppers and are morbidly obese, so overall, it hasn’t had much impact on their resting metabolic rate. Perhaps the frequency of consumption matters, and the people I know are not eating capcaicins frequently enough to get a therapeutic effect. I do believe, however, for this population, that a whole foods, truly low-fat plant-based diet is one solution to sustainable weight loss and also the healthiest route to weight loss. Maybe focusing on capcaicins would be the wrong approach for those who really need weight loss, though it may be a useful component.

  • Thea

    What caught my attention when I first heard this video was this line, “But now, we have studies showing this class of compounds increases energy expenditure in human individuals with brown fat, but not those without it…” Wait, “those without it”? So, does that mean that the brown fat goes away in some percentage of adults? Or did the study find adults who did not have brown fat due to some disease or abnormality that would not be reflected in the general population?

    As a dietary wimp, I wouldn’t be eating the hot foods anyway. That made the end of the video a happy ending for me. But I wonder if this idea in general is strictly an academic question for X % of people who don’t have brown fat anyway??? (Just wondering, because it doesn’t really make a difference. The end of the video makes it clear that we are talking about just one more way in which the diet recommended on NutritionFacts helps to make us healthy. It doesn’t, in my mind translate into changing anything that we are already doing if we are eating healthy anyway.)

    • largelytrue

      Well, I’m sorry to hear about your dietary wimpiness, though I assume you understand that you can habituate to spicy-hot foods as gradually as you want.

      But yes, I second your point emphatically that eating healthily is mostly covered by a few broad strokes. Especially if you look at the site’s history, NF has a strong raison d’etre in celebrating the variety of health-promoting foods and the diversity of possible benefits. By their nature, plant foods have astounding biochemical diversity and pharmacological potential. But it doesn’t mean that it’s reasonable to sidestep the tentativeness of much of the research about very particular foods, or that the site insists that one should embrace every food that is mentioned positively as a Superfood, with all the magical thinking and ritualism that that often entails.

      One way of analyzing the proposed practices here is simply to look at the ends. The reason that is supplied for promoting brown fat and its activity is to lower BMI. If you don’t think you’d benefit appreciably by lowering your bodily adiposity at present, and are happy with your normal dietary pattern, there’s simply no need to disrupt what you are doing. “Boosting brown fat” doesn’t seem superficially like the sort of mechanism that would have appreciable harmful side effects over the long term, but you never know unless you dive into the details of a potentially complex cascade of metabolic effects. It is extremely plausible that some metabolic processes would promote more rapid senescence at the same time as they increase total energy expenditure. The goal of exploiting autophagy needs to be reconciled carefully with the goal of “boosting brown fat” if you want to practice both at once, at the very least. Doing the latter could enable you to have more calories, protein, and less dietary quality overall while maintaining the same ‘healthy’ BMI that you use as a marker for health: not a fantastic idea from the view of the former.

      Many people should probably wait and see exactly what link there is between spicy foods and longevity before making a commitment in the name of health. If it seems to be a novel pathway that plausibly benefits everyone, and not just those who are above their ideal weight, then perhaps it will be time for everyone to forge ahead with capsinoids.

    • Darryl

      Brown fat (progressively lost after infancy) is best at non-shivering thermogenesis, but the same dietary compounds potentially activate thermogenesis in “beige”/”brite” fat, an intermediate cell type found in adult white fat deposits.

      • Shabalina IG et al. 2013. UCP1 in brite/beige adipose tissue mitochondria is functionally thermogenic
      • Wu J et al. 2013. Adaptive thermogenesis in adipocytes: Is beige the new brown?
      • Lee P et al. 2014. Functional thermogenic beige adipogenesis is inducible in human neck fat
      • Bonet ML et al. 2013. Pharmacological and nutritional agents promoting browning of white adipose tissue
      • Merlin J et al. 2015. Could burning fat start with a “brite” spark? Pharmacological and nutritional ways to promote thermogenesis (not open access, though the supplement is)

      • Thea

        Oh, now that’s interesting. I understand you to be saying: even if we have lost most of our brown fat, we still can potentially benefit from this concept by the existence of the beige fat and what it can do. That makes a lot of sense. Thanks for this additional info. I’ll take a look at those links.

        • Matthew Smith

          I have eaten a regular green pepper each of the past two days and notice my neck and arms are warmer. Perhaps I should keep this up and report back. Or try some hot sauce. Did you know that for treks to the South Pole researchers have to budget 5,000 calories a day? I understand that living in Alaska you also have to eat a great deal in the winter. Men in Iceland have the longest lifespan of any nation (Japanese women have the longest life span among women). Perhaps it is do to regular and efficient production of heat? Perhaps cold stifles hormones and/or cell division and causes energetic efficiency? Are telomores longer among those who shiver? So there’s the mitochondrial theory of aging, telomere shortening (we are conceived with 15,000 basepairs, born with 10,000, and are dying of aging at 5,000), and growing hormonal imbalances and incomplete cell division as factors in aging. I imagine the Whole Foods Plant Based diet is proactively fighting all these problems.

  • Wade Patton

    So how do i figure out if I have brown fat or not? But then I am a pepper eater. This Cracker knows that one can quickly build up a tolerance to hotter and hotter peppers (or more volume of the same pepper). Each season when fresh peppers start coming in, they seem super hot, then with regular consumption the body acclimates. I use pods and powders from Hatch, NM as well. Nearly everything that crosses my stovetop gets a bit of NM chili powder added. And then I’m eating seed and beans too. Recently ate at a Thai place where the spicy scale goes to 5. I had 4 and it was hot but not impossible, next time I’m going all the way!

    But who are these folks with zero BAT?

    Oh, I see Thea beat me to the question below, so I’ll refer myself to those responses-leaving this up for giggles and grins.

  • Yvan Pearson

    What would be a good daily dose of cayenne pepper powder?

    • Wade Patton

      As much as you can stand. It changes. And remember that cayenne is only one of dozens of different sources of capsaicin. Each one tends to favor one cuisine or another.

  • MikeOnRaw

    If anything, this information continues along the same path of other videos here in that healthy plant based foods are special. Eating a diet which is primarily based on whole plant sources can and does result in metabolic changes such that it can be fair to say, it is not as simple as calories in vs calories out.

    • Thea

      You said it better than me MikeOnRaw. Good post!

    • largelytrue

      I agree with you on general grounds that healthy lifestyle, and healthy diet in particular, are not as simple as calories in vs. calories out. But the irony here is that you are posting this comment on a video that is focused on the topic of calorie balance.

    • Metabolic changes do not negate CICO, just the variables one plugs into the math.

      No metabolic ward study has ever falsified CICO. But we have proven how hard it is to know how many calories are being consumed (or even account for every food item ) eaten) and calories expended in free living subjects.

      http://youtu.be/hPi1LQHBWBk

      • MikeOnRaw

        Thanks for that. And yes I may have made too much of an simple statement. But many if not most nutrition folks seem to find it hard to believe that it isn’t just how much you eat, but also what you eat. And it is staying stuck with how much you eat vs how much you work out has people starving themselves to loose weight. Something that wouldn’t be necessary if people were aware that you can change what you eat, and not starve yourself, and still achieve loss of weight.
        The real news here is that we’re really seeing proven that not all calories are the same. Something that hasn’t really been made clear to the public.

        • largelytrue

          I’d say that most “nutrition folks” recognize that what you eat is important for health, and even for healthy weight in particular. Even if we assume that they think that only calories in are what matter, what you eat affects how many calories you take in. Can you quote even one mainstream nutritional expert as not thinking that what sort of foods you choose to eat and drink will have an influence on calorie intake?

          • MikeOnRaw

            Those I have had direct experience recommend using tools like my fitness pal to log your exercise and BMR, and then log your food. Then simply suggest making sure your food intake is 10% below your energy expended and you’ll loose weight regardless of the actual food you are eating. thus the same old calories in vs calories out. Such people at local gyms or the YMCA may not be mainstream nutritionists, but these are the people giving recommendations to hundreds of thousands of people every day.

          • largelytrue

            I can grant you that, but I think the idea of satiety as a tool is widely distributed throughout popular culture. I would anticipate that beside having a lot of misinformation, gym rats would be more interested in precision, rigid control and willpower as the overarching virtues behind what they are doing nutritionally.

            But we live in a world where “the Biggest Loser” 4-3-2-1 diet model advocates 4 servings of vegetables and a bunch of lean protein for satiety, and where a British program that is quite strongly focused on the overarching narrative of calories in as connected with weight loss nonetheless finds opportunities to advocate changing the dietary composition to make meals less calorie dense. Granted, I think that some of the advise is quite weak, but that’s part of why people focus on CICO in the first place. It’s a point of apparent consensus and objectivity in the altogether fragmentary world of popular nutrition.

            I wonder what the YMCA folks would say if you followed up and asked if there was a way to restrict calories in the prescribed way easily. I don’t think it’s responsible to advise ‘bare’ calorie restriction in general, but these types of people may sometimes have more to recommend if you talked with them further. Not that they’d necessarily tell you to restrict animal products greatly or anything like that, but they may very well advise you to give up junk food first on the theory that regular meals are more satiating, calorie for calorie.

      • Tom Goff

        Yes, there are so many variables that affect dietary efficiency. However, I found these reports below intriguing. It would be interesting to see the British paper when it is eventually published. Do you have any comments on them?
        https://endo.confex.com/endo/2015endo/webprogram/Paper20716.html
        http://sydney.edu.au/news/84.html?newsstoryid=13173

  • jj

    Off topic but anyway if you can handle his language this is a rather interesting video. John Oliver Tackles Food Waste.

    http://blog.thehungersite.com/food-waste/?gg_source=ths&gg_campaign=Ad%20-%20468x250news-sliderfoodwasteaugust-2015ths&gg_medium=house&gg_content=text

  • B

    As someone who just LOVES hot chilis and includes 2 million+ Scoville chilis in his homemade chili sauces, this is good news! Thank you Doc Greger and those leaving these great comments :)

  • Rhombopterix

    There are other molecules in the capsacin famiily that are not hot to taste but do elicit BF decoupling. See the last 2 refs in Wednesdays citations. So “cool” chilis may work for Thea and other ‘wimps’. Some people just dont dig pain i guess : )

    by the way, could Darryl or someone please explain what decoupling means and how does that result in heat? I understand that the citric acid cycle makes ATP but what happens when the cycle “decouples” from that task? If I have that much right !?

    • Letha

      the protons pass through the mitocondrial membrane without activating the ATP synthase. this way you lose the gradient of protons that all the previous steps have built, withpout getting ATP for it, and this way lose a lot of energy that is dissipated as heat.

      • Rhombopterix

        Yes I see what uncoupling means now. Can you explain why simply no making ATP results in heat dissapation. Perhaps I should have taken more p chem? and spelling :)

        • Letha

          Well, energy cannot just disappear. it has to take some other form. if you have a gradient of protons (potential energy) that is lost, some other form of energy must be created. The form energy takes when it is to be dissipated into the environment is heat.

    • Darryl

      After glycolysis and the citric acid cycle, each glucose has generated 4 ATP, but the majority of its energy takes the form of NADH and FADH2 inside mitochondria. The electron transport chain on the inner mitochondrial membrane can be thought of as a pump, using energy released by the oxidation of these coenzymes to pump protons (H+) into the space between the inner and outer mitochondrial membranes. As this is pumping against the electrochemical gradient of the higher H+ concentration, its converting chemical potential into electric potential, much as pumping water uphill converts work to gravitational potential. The inner mitochondrial membrane is akin to a dam in this metaphor, as it mostly prevents protons from returning except through the enzyme ATP synthase, which uses the energy of these protons flowing down the electrochemical gradient to generate a theoretical 32 ATP.from each glucose. A rather potent little turbine. As the membrane is slightly porous and there’s some slippage in ATP synthase, the usual total yield from each glucose is ~30 ATP, rather than the theoretical 36.

      What happens when protonophores like 2,4-DNP, CCCP, or our own uncoupling proteins (UCP 1-3) are introduced to the inner mitochondrial membrane? They provide an alternative pathway for H+ to flow “downhill”, a sluice gate if you will, and depending on their concentration cause much of glucose’s energy to be wasted generating heat, rather than ATP. Respiration has been uncoupled from phosphorylation. The cell still requires ATP fuel, so more glucose (and other energy sources like fats and proteins) are catabolized to make up for this inefficiency.

      Some uncoupled respiration makes sense for warm-blooded creatures in cold climates, as they may need the heat more than cellular fuel. Brown fat, and related beige/brite fat are all about generating heat through uncoupled respiration.

      What’s really fascinating is that by reducing the electrochemical potential across the inner mitochondrial membrane, mild uncoupling also dramatically reduces superoxide and hydrogen peroxide inadvertently produced by the electron transport chain. Much work in the past decade has examined how uncoupled respiration is used to regulate oxidative stress and perhaps aging rates (1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9).

      • Rhombopterix

        Thank you. For the first time I (think) understand what the proton pump is and its purpose.

        Now I’m picturing a bunch of little yellow protons rolling down a sluice from high concentration to low. But I still don’t understand where the heat comes from. If I put acid in a dialysis bag and put the bag into water would that also generate heat?

        Where were you when i was taking biochem? In diapers probably! Understanding helps me stay o the path, thank you very much! I’ll check out those ref’s tonight

        • Darryl

          Energy is conserved. When protons fall down the electrochemical gradient via the protonophores, their potential energy is converted to thermal energy as they bump into molecules in the mitochondrial matrix. The same thing happens in waterfalls, gravitational potential is converted to kinetic energy, and if the pool below is otherwise still, into waves and ultimately small, but measurable, heat.

          • Rhombopterix

            Amazing…even at that microscopic level it sounds like ordinary friction. Protophores sound a bit like the type of antibiotics that literally punch holes in a bacteria’s membrane.

            If I could draw you out a bit further…

            If I were to use my homebuilt windmill to simply mix water, would that be one efficient way of actually heating water, say in a well insulated container?

          • Darryl

            The uncoupling proteins do punch through the membrane, though they don’t form pores. They require free fatty acid cofactors, which may flip-flop across the membrane carrying protons. The small molecule protonophores function more like ferries.

            It is possible to heat water by stirring, though its high specific heat and issues with cavitation prevent doing so rapidly. There are Vitamix recipes that cook in the blender, though this is probably sped up by friction between the blade and food particles.

          • Rhombopterix

            Who are you? Do you teach? besides here i mean.

            So on the high [H+] side the pH is low and the fatty acid binds a proton. the protonophore shuttles it to the other side of the membrane where the concentration is low and pH is high and the proton dissociates….would that be correct? I studied all this stuff, good grades, learned precious little.

            There was a recent study on beet juice. Athletes were hooked up to O2 monitors and burned more after downing a shot of beet juice. Could betalains promote uncoupling too? ( I know about the nitrate story but cant help but draw an inference about betalain)

            A friend of mine (now passed) was an economics prof. who saw my homemade windmill and told me about mixing water to capture the energy. He was a brilliant fellow but admitted he didn’t know why it wouldn’t work. I tried it anyway and it didn’t work, heh. Cavitation eh. I knew that. Too many mercury fillings.

        • Darryl

          I was curious about that dialysis bag idea. It turns out there’s been some work on osmotic power, harnessing the energy otherwise wasted as heat when fresh river water mixes with the saline sea. It turns out one can extract 0.75 kWh/m3 of membrane this way.

          • Rhombopterix

            Just read it. 91 % but at an impractically low energy density I think. Still, who cares if its only 10% at a useful density its still energy that otherwise gets wasted.

            i read about a guy who was working on a static electricity motor but i don’t know…he just dropped out of sight.

        • Darryl

          I just discovered Nick Lane, in Life Ascending, uses the same metaphor. There’s a good discussion of why biology would use a proton electrochemical gradient to generate ATP. ATP is like a $5 bill, but many energy producing reactions can only produce small fractions of that $5 increment. The mitochondrial proton gradient allows reactions that may only yield $1 or 25¢ worth of energy to contribute to ATP production. .

          • Blasting, bursting, billowing forth type thing. I get it. Pile up enough butterfly sneeses and you can fly to the moon! I’m on Amazon now. i see he has also a book called “the Vital Question”. I might get that one first…i used to study “pre-biotic” chemsitry in my home lab. reversible binding of amino acids to clay…it is soo interesting because clay has catalytic properties and stablilizes certain transition states. So in other words peptides do form in brine on certain types of clay. Problem is, as you know i’m sure, catalysis goes both ways so as soon as you start seeing something potentiall y useful the clay breaks it back down! So Darryl, can you envision a natural setting whereupon the nascent polymer would somehow be sequestered and protected from hydrolysis?

          • Darryl

            Nick Lane finds the most compelling location for prebiotic reactions is porous alkaline hydrothermal vents along oceanic ridges. The pores are around the size of bacterial cells, and precursors are spontaneously generated and concentrated by hydrothermal currents. His New Scientist article is here, and you can sample the other subjects from Life Ascending here.

          • I met Dr. Morowitz at a strange “Bioastronomy 2002” Conference. I presented a poster except nobody wanted to hear my song and dance. But Harold stopped by and we talked about RNA…he left rather quickly because i objected to his assumption that “activated” monomers would occur naturally in the prebiotic world. Now i see why I was probably wrong… like most of my stuff. Nothing to see here folks, these are not the droids we are looking for. My bid for greatness…lost amidst the hot mazes.

            thanks for heads up…i have time to at least read along. Someday, some renegade is going to work up the next generation “Urey” experiment and out will crawl a funny little coacervate droplet complete with proton pump!

      • Darryl, that last paper (8) is about uncoupling taking place in muscle. I guess it doesn’t really matter where the mitochondria are located as far as cell type. Am I connecting the right dots by concluding that the liklihood is high that foods that induce uncoupling (as well as exposure to cold) may be a way to reduce harmful reactive oxygen radicals and impede aging?

        • Darryl

          There’s a seriously confounded association of longevity with latitude in epidemiology, and a couple of (ethically suspect) studies demonstrating median & mean life extension by cold exposure in mammals (1, 2).

          At the moment, the “uncoupling to survive” hypothesis mostly offers one explanation for why metabolic rate doesn’t have a negative effect on lifespan in inter- and intra-species comparisons, as might be expected from the mitochondrial oxidative stress theory of aging. There’s a potential that these UCP inducers and cold exposure may have modest positive effects. They at least don’t appear to have negative ones.

          • Rhombopterix

            A lot yet to be learned, especially from UCP-2 and insulin down reg. But I interpret its effects as negative based on

            PLoS One. 2008 Jan 2;3(1):e1397. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0001397.

            UCP-2 and UCP-3 proteins are differentially regulated in pancreatic beta-cells.

            Li Y1, Maedler K, Shu L, Haataja L.

            “Increased uncoupling protein-2 (UCP-2) expression has been associated with impaired insulin secretion, whereas UCP-3 protein levels are decreased in the skeleton muscle of type-2 diabetic subjects. In the present studies we hypothesize an opposing effect of glucose on the regulation of UCP-2 and UCP-3 in pancreatic islets.

            And similar papers that google up. If UDP-2 expression is upped then we would expect blood glucose to rise too, no? I have yet to read your latest refs….keep em coming please!

      • Darryl

        Cool, and possibly related to the “uncoupling to survive” theory:

        Salin K et al. 2015. Individuals with higher metabolic rates have lower levels of reactive oxygen species in vivo. Proc Roy Soc B. DOI: 10.1098/rsbl.2015.0538

      • Charlotte Kramer

        Thanks a lot for this! I just posted a question wondering if uncoupling would decrease ROS formation but you just gave me the answer :)

    • Wade Patton

      There’s a lot more to it than “pain”. Andrew Weil explores this in one of his books where he looks at traditional practices around the globe, some including “drugs” and others just food or activity and what drives them-which is often related to a health (chilis, eclipses, etc.). I cannot recall which title it was though sorry.

  • guest

    I’m an immigrant and have been eating a lot of peppers in their many forms all my life and have been underweight all my life. My own sister has been eating peppers all her life – even more than I do because she still lives in our native land – but has been overweight since adolescence. The major difference between our diets is that she consumes a lot of sugar, drinking a lot of tea laden with sugar and eating sugary deserts and snacks, whereas I haven’t added sugar to my tea or anything in thirty years and don’t eat sugary food regularly, except an occasional piece of cake at a birthday party. My point is that eating peppers or arginine-rich foods wouldn’t help lose or maintain weight if the rest of the diet is unhealthful.

    • lgking

      Agreed!

    • Wade Patton

      Yes, anyone who “eats a lot of sugar” or processed foods is not eating Whole Food. And they usually are very plump and suffering maladies of modern diet. I hope your sister learns how easy it is to eat WFPB and become/stay healthy.

  • Rodrigo Cardoso

    Subtitled into Portuguese, to share with family and friends from Portuguese speaking origins: http://nf.focoempatico.net/estimular-a-gordura-castanha-atraves-da-alimentacao/

  • Eating Arginine rich foods like nonGMO Soybean Tamari sauce, Miso soup, Nuts, Seeds, Beans + Hot Cayenne Pepper burns body Fat! Asians tolerate more Cayenne Pepper than Caucasians!

  • Ray Tajoma

    Sorry for sounding skeptic, but you can’t eat a double bacon cheeseburger with milk shake and sprinkle a little hot pepper on your french fries and expect to lose weight. No way it’s not going to happen. There is no exercise pill or sleep pill that you can take to not have to exercise and sleep. These are all gimmicks.

    • Wade Patton

      Where did you get the idea that anyone who hangs around here is eating bacon or cheese or burgers or milkshakes or fried potatoes?

      • Ray Tajoma

        because that’s what obese and fat people eat.

        • Wade Patton

          Yes, that is the population of America as whole, but my guess is that the “gang” here, tends toward the healthier end of the scale. I’m currently at 158# at 5’11”, or 25# lighter than I was at the first of this year.

          Never going back. Too easy to be healthy once we wrap our minds around food choices as the ultimate cause/effect of human health.

          • largelytrue

            Skinny Crackers, Cajuns, and similar are awesome, by the way, and more true to the good parts of the traditional type. Glad to hear of your progress.

  • catgirljourney

    hello brain boxes- watching this, reading this and generating heat… which reminds to ponder why my hot flashes create SUCH energy and so rapidly- what the heck’s going on with my lil mitochondrial engines? and why does evening primrose oil turn out to be the only effective way to reduce the frequency and severity? and why’s it called menopause instead of womenopause! =^..^=

  • Dan

    What about just taking L-Arginine as a supplement?

    • Wade Patton

      Because supplements don’t always work and they can be expensive and/or contaminated. Most of the time we do not fully understand the complexity of a biological process, and when we yank this or that identified piece or part of the puzzle away and try to use it in isolation, IT FAILS to be as effective (if effective at all) as simply eating the plants.

      Food is the answer, supplements are not-except in some few cases (B12 and D).

  • This just in: Capsaisin warms you three times. First when you’re eating it, second when it turns on your brown fat and third when you um… you know. then. Scorchio!

    • Rhombopterix

      Yeah, gives a whole new meaning to that Johnny Cash song about the “Ring of Fire”!

  • Noe Marcial

    Of how many extra calories burned a day are we talking about with this increase in the metabolism by cayenne pepper or arginine?

  • Ian Su

    If I soak my feet in cold water for 10 minutes a day, would that be enough to activate the brown fat burning muscles?

  • Brittney

    “Normally, when we cut down on calories, our metabolism slows down, undercutting our weight loss attempts,…”

    What is the mechanism for metabolism slows down? Can I cause issues to my metabolism by dropping down to a WFPB diet intaking only 1200 calories a day, while having a demanding and physically active profession to drop 15 lbs I’ve acquired from eating too much processed vegan snacks.

    From Dr. Mc Dougall’s forum, I’ve read posts from Jeff Novick, MS, RD that there is no such thing as “starvation mode” just starvation and BMR only decreases in direct correlation to weight decreases.

  • frsen

    Hello, do you have a video or a link that talk about the arginine/lysine ratio in regards to cold sores? Is there any truth in the assumption that having more lysine than arginine intake helps dealing with cold sores?

  • Susan Britney

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  • sf_jeff

    But do arginine-rich foods also stimulate an increase in HGH? How would this impact health?

  • Pat

    There’s a Dutchman, Win Hof, who teaches cold adaptation. He is able to by packed in ice for over an hour without discomfort or to remain on mountain tops wearing only shorts and shoes in sub-zero temperatures. Although he’s middle aged, he also holds several world records for strength and feats of endurance, which he attributes to his cold adaptation. It seems that cold exposure increases mitochondrial biogenesis. Apparently it’s possible to adapt to cold temperatures, but the mechanism of adaption may not be through increased BAT alone. It’s also possible that the body accumulates increased white adipose tissue- and if this is visceral fat, it would be bad! It might result long-term in poor cardiovascular health. For this reason, I’m reluctant to do cold adaptation. Any thoughts?

  • Mike

    This study list several other thermogenesis activators:

    http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1002/mnfr.201500251/full

  • Miroslav Kovar

    Too bad that these arginine rich foods are also very calorie dense – it might be a better idea to eat something with less calories when trying to lose weight. Nice to have this information anyway, though.

  • Charlotte Kramer

    My most recent course at university just taught me that uncoupling (uncoupling the proton gradient from ATP production) like it happens in BAT decreases reactive oxygen species production. Would that mean that increasing the foods mentioned in this video (beans, chillies, etc) could decrease ROS and therefore potentially decrease cancer risk via this pathway?