I rarely get too excited about mouse studies, but this one is pretty amazing. Researchers at my alma mater have discovered that osteoblasts (cells that create bone) secrete a certain protein that affects the health of the pancreas. The protein (osteocalcin) stimulates the pancreas to create more insulin-secreting beta cells. When people don’t secrete enough insulin, the result is often type 2 diabetes. So a healthy pancreas with a good insulin secreting capacity is critical to regulating blood sugar.
The researchers also discovered that mice who were bred to have no osteocalcin gene had abnormal amounts of fat in their bodies. So this means that bones may have something to do with energy metabolism and weight gain.
Of course it’s too early to speculate on the implications of all this (what’s true for mice is not necessarily true for humans – but I’m going to anyway). Since bone cells (osteoblasts) are sensitive to gravity, and increase their activity with weight bearing, this could explain why exercise (especially weight lifting) is important in weight loss. The new ACSM guidelines recommend weight training as part of a healthy exercise regimen, and the underlying mechanism for this may be that bone cells rev up metabolism and insulin secreting capacity in response to weight lifting.
So, if you want to lose weight – make sure you stimulate those bone cells with some good weight bearing exercises. They may just help to reduce your risk of type 2 diabetes as well!This post originally appeared on Dr. Val’s blog at RevolutionHealth.com.