Researchers from Baylor College of Medicine have published in Nature a study concerning a molecule very dear to us, the one produced by the body during exercise, capable of reducing appetite and obesity.
Usually producing this type of effects costs us effort, sacrifice, physical and mental effort, makes us put on a tracksuit or shorts and makes us go to the gym or to the training ground. This discovery, however, implies the fact that this molecule can be artificially replaced, that is, instead of joining the gym or going for a run, swallow a pill.
At first glance it doesn’t seem like a good idea, and in fact we try to understand something more.
The research team analyzed blood samples from mice that ran on a treadmill and found that a modified amino acid called Lac-Phe was produced from lactate and phenylalanine. When the overweight mice were then given Lac-Phe, this reduced their food intake by about 50% in 12 hours, which was an effect totally unrelated to movement or energy expenditure.
This might seem like a great discovery and indeed it would be really useful in some particular conditions, for example helping sick or distressed people who are unable to exercise.
But as we know what sport gives you is not reducible to a molecule that regulates appetite. Sport has repercussions on our mental state, on the cardiovascular level, on our self-esteem, on our relationships with others. Sport helps us focus and improves our mood. In short, sport and physical exercise are not a mere chemical operation, they are an expression of human culture and of our nature.
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