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Researchers from Baylor and Stanford universities say they’ve taken a big step toward compressing some of the benefits of exercise into a simple pill.
Researchers Baylor Professor of Pediatrics Dr Yong Xu and Stanford Assistant Professor of Pathology Dr Jonathan Long say they have identified a molecule produced in the blood during exercise that successfully reduced food intake and obesity in mice, according to the Baylor College of Medicine.
“Regular exercise has been shown to help with weight loss, appetite regulation and metabolic profile improvement, especially for overweight and obese people,” Xu said. “If we can understand the mechanism by which exercise triggers these benefits, then we are one step closer to helping many people improve their health.”
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“We wanted to understand how exercise works at the molecular level so that we can reap some of its benefits,” Long added. “For example, elderly or frail people who can’t exercise enough could one day benefit from taking a drug that can help slow osteoporosis, heart disease or other conditions.”
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The research couple identified an amino acid called Lac-Phe. When they administered doses of the amino acid to mice fed a high-fat diet, they observed a 50% decrease in food intake over the following 12 hours, according to Baylor.
Researchers have also found that humans, and even racehorses, produce the same amino acid when they undergo intense physical activity.
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“Our next steps are to find more details about how Lac-Phe regulates its effects in the body, including the brain,” Xu told Baylor. “Our goal is to learn how to modulate this exercise pathway for therapeutic interventions.”