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Nestle developing products to mimic effects of exercise


Could scientists find a way to replace exercise with food? Scientists at the Nestlé Institute of Health Sciences in Lausanne, Switzerland, think they are a step closer to developing an edible product which would supply the benefits that exercise provides. The key to their latest findings, published earlier this year in the journal Chemistry and Biology, revolves around understanding a “master switch” which regulates energy consumption in the body.

The motivation behind the research is not to completely eliminate the need to exercise, rather, to help maintain a healthy energy balance. Specifically, the product is intended for those who may have difficulty maintaining an active lifestyle.

The master switch,  AMP-activated protein kinase (AMPK), is an enzyme which has been previously described and indicated as a potential target for treating metabolic disorders. AMPK is activated in the body by low energy status, as is the case during exercise. The activation leads to consumption of glucose during the production of ATP (the currency of energy in the body).

“AMPK is a key protein in every single cell in your body and is naturally activated by exercise. It monitors your energy status, like a fuel gauge in a car, and tells you to fill up when your energy is low,” said Kei Sakamoto, the Head of Diabetes and Circadian Rhythms at the Nestlé Institute of Health Sciences. In addition to regulating metabolism and ATP production, the enzyme has been shown to regulate food intake in mouse models, and contribute to glucose uptake.

The Nestlé  funded research is now focused on finding molecules which would activate AMPK. “The next stage is to identify natural substances that can influence this molecular mechanism,” said Ed Baetge, Head of the Nestlé Institute of Health Sciences.

Even with the ideal substance capable of activating AMPK, the hypothetical product wouldn’t be a magic bullet, eliminating the need for exercise. “Exercise has so many different effects – a cognitive role and physiological function – we’ll never be able to mimic all those effects in a single product,” said Sakamoto. It would, however, be one more tool available for people struggling to maintain a healthy weight.

via Nestle developing products to mimic effects of exercise.


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