How did the little fur balls get so healthy? Well, they increased their metabolic rate but – and here’s the kicker – not by exercise. So far, building muscle and exercising is the only method we know of for upping one’s metabolism.
Researchers altered a protein that made the mitochondria of the mice less efficient. In case you don’t read biology books for fun, the mitochondria are the powerhouses of the cells – they provide them with the energy they need to do their basic cellular functions like cleaning house, making new cells, and then screaming at the new cells to pick up their &%#(* toys before I give them to needy cells who would really appreciate them. Oh, wait. Anyhow, less efficient mitochondria causes the mice muscles to burn more calories, causing a metabolic increase that “could at least be a partial substitute for exercise.”
This is by far my favorite part of the research:
Clay Semenkovich, one of the researchers says, “There are a couple of ways to treat obesity and related diseases,” he continued. “You can eat less, but that’s unpopular, or you could eat what you want as these animals did and introduce an altered physiology. It’s a fundamentally different way of addressing the problem.” Cellular purging??
Mr. Semenkovich continues, “Uncoupling in muscle may be a substitute for exercise,” he says. “If that’s true in humans, and if uncoupling can be done safely, this could be an important therapy because it’s sometimes very difficult to get people to exercise.”
Eating less is “unpopular”? Sometimes it’s “very difficult” to get people to exercise? I’ll say!! People don’t want to watch what they eat & work out? Alter their basic cellular physiology! Awesome.
I’m not knocking the St. Louis researches – I have nothing but respect for the scientists and you KNOW I love me some research – but forgive me if I’m dubious that the solution to people’s health woes as they age is to mess with our mitochondria.
What if, heaven forbid, our food supply suddenly becomes scarce? Or what if we find ourselves in a life situation where we have to work physically harder to survive? People with normal bodies will be able to adjust to variable demands & nutrition but those with altered proteins (or I suppose gastric bypass) have just lost that flexibility.
So, thanks but no thanks Mr. Semenkovich, I’ll just keep exercising and eating right. And one more thing – can you keep those long-living mice in St. Louis?? I already have one mouse in my house (for reals!!) and I can tell you his life span is about to be seriously shortened no matter what his mitochondria say:)