Losing weight without strenuous diet or exercise - A small metabolism switch can help now

People who sleep too little often develop an enormous craving for sweet and fatty snacks. Researchers have now investigated why this is so in a study. (Image: happy_lark / fotolia.com)

Material cause for obesity and diabetes discovered

Everyone should be aware that too much sugar and fat are unhealthy, make you fat and are associated with numerous diseases. However, if you ask yourself why this is so, you will quickly come across question marks. What mechanisms in the body cause us to gain weight when we eat poorly? The answer lies in the metabolism. A German research team deciphered the material cause of obesity and diabetes and was able to nip these processes in the bud with a small intervention.

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Eating what you want without getting sick and gaining weight - sounds like a utopia. However, if you look at the metabolic processes that are responsible for weight gain, it turns out that it's all just a matter of biochemistry. This was shown by researchers at the Max Planck Institute for Metabolism Research. They deciphered the metabolic process in the body that causes us to accumulate fat. At the same time, this also forms the basis of type 2 diabetes. With a small intervention in the metabolism, the team was able to show that obese mice suddenly lost weight despite an unhealthy and high-fat diet and did not develop diabetes. The study results were recently published in the renowned journal "Cell".

Eat a diet rich in fat and sugar and still stay slim and healthy - is that possible? A research team deciphered a metabolic product that is largely responsible for the unhealthy effects of a high-fat diet. (Image: happy_lark / fotolia.com)

Is a high-fat diet compatible with a healthy lifestyle?

Fatty liver, diabetes, metabolic syndrome, heart disease, colon cancer: the list of serious diseases associated with an unhealthy diet is long. In contrast, at the moment only a consistent and long-term change in diet that requires discipline and background knowledge can help. However, many people do not have the time or inclination to deal so intensively with the topic of nutrition. They want to eat whatever they feel like eating. Can a high-sugar and high-fat diet be reconciled with a healthy lifestyle? Maybe yes, says the research team at the Max Planck Society.

What happens in the body when we eat too much fat

The scientists used mice to investigate which metabolic processes cause the body to accumulate fat. Previous studies had already shown that adipose tissue can only store excess fats to a certain extent. If this point is exceeded, more and more fat molecules are stored in muscles and the liver. These deposits lay the foundation for fatty liver and insulin resistance, which lead to type 2 diabetes.

Not all fats are equally involved in fat formation

A certain group of fat molecules is largely responsible for this process. The so-called ceramides are compounds that bind to fatty acids. They are made by metabolic processes when we eat high-fat foods. This process is called ceramide synthase. Previous studies have tried to prevent this synthase. However, this led to considerable side effects. The Max Planck Research Group has now been able to break down the ceramide synthase more precisely.

Why does fat make you fat?

"With a complete inhibition of the ceramide synthesis, for example, the development of the animals is also disturbed," explains Dr. Philipp Hammerschmidt from the research group in a press release on the study results. The team therefore investigated which of the different ceramide synthases are precisely involved in the development of insulin resistance.

The team identified a specific subset of ceramides that accumulated in the liver of overweight mice. According to the study, these ceramide molecules always have a certain length and are formed by the ceramide synthases 5 and 6. In further tests, the researchers purposefully only suppressed the formation of this subgroup. “Interestingly, only the inactivation of the ceramide synthase 6 could protect the mice from obesity, fatty liver and insulin resistance. The loss of the ceramide synthase 5, on the other hand, had no effect on this, ”Hammerschmidt sums up.

Ceramide deposits inhibit the energy balance

As the researchers report, the ceramides from synthase 6 influence the structure and function of mitochondria, i.e. the cells that are responsible for the production of energy in the body. In the case of a diet that is excessively high in fat and sugar, ceramide synthase 6 accumulates in the mitochondria and inhibits their function in the long term. The researchers see this process as the cause of excessive obesity and the diseases associated with it.

Obese mice ate themselves lean on a high-fat diet

When the research team specifically blocked the ceramide 6 synthase in the mice, something astonishing happened: "The mice continued to eat very high in fat, but lost weight and their sugar metabolism improved at the same time," says Hammerschmidt. Such a regulation is also conceivable for humans. However, this must first be examined in more detail in further studies. (vb)

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