Nestle looks to replicate the gym workout by developing “exercise in a bottle” food that mimics the chemical effects of physical activity. Research published in the science journal Chemistry & Biology last July claims certain chemical combinations recreate the effects of exercise and can possibly be replicated in food products.
Scientists at the Nestle Institute of Health Sciences in Lausanne, Switzerland worked from the theory that an internal master switch regulates how the body uses energy. This theory is traced to a protein called the AMP-activated protein kinase (AMPK).
AMPK has been targeted by researchers before to develop treatments for metabolic disorders. The protein is activated when the body reports a low energy status, such as that during rigorous exercise. Once awakened, it will consume glucose while producing ATP (currency of energy in the body).
Kei Sakamoto, a researcher at the institute, describes AMPK as being similar to a fuel gauge in a car. It sends a message to the brain that it is time to fill up on energy and starts to regulate metabolism and food intake.
This research by Nestle, and likely developments for exercise in a bottle, will serve an increasing public demand. Consumers remain disenchanted with packaged food and the effects it has on health. As a result, people expect more from their food and actively pursue organic foods, gluten-free pasta, and vitamin enhanced snacks. These demands are expected to outpace preferences for traditional food through 2019, as they have every year in the past decade.
The manufacturer seeks to add additional nutritive elements to offer benefits beyond satisfying hunger and current consumer preferences. Finding molecules that activate AMPK and support health can help fulfill those desires.
With the AMPK link firmly proven, research now is focused on finding natural substances that will activate it. One compound linked with its stimulation is called C13, which is a potential first step in the development of the anticipated food products. Scientists continue to extract natural substances from different plants and fruit to see if any of them can also activate the protein.
While Nestle remains optimistic about these possible future products, it cautions that these are not intended to be a magic bullet for weight loss. The products are not intended for people with no physical limitations who refuse to exercise. Active people who have difficulty maintaining a healthy weight are the primary market for these developments.
There is a possibility the products could also help people suffering physical ailments that prevent rigorous exercise. People who cannot run but can walk briskly for 20 minutes can enjoy an extra metabolic boost using these products. There is also the chance that these can help people with limited mobility who wish to maintain a healthy weight.
Nestle’s research into developing exercise in a bottle is seen as a merging of the food and pharmaceutical industry called “scientific nutrition.” American and foreign pharmaceutical companies spent years attempting to target AMPK but could not find an option worthy of a clinical trial. While there is no hard prediction on the likelihood of Nestle’s success, it is clear such a development would be welcomed by many.
By Jocelyn Mackie
Utah People’s Post
Photo by Hotel de la Paix Geneve – Flickr License