A study comparing the impact of diet versus drugs on the inner workings of our cells has found nutrition has a much stronger impact.
The pre-clinical study by the University of Sydney’s Charles Perkins Centre suggests the makeup of our diet could be more powerful than drugs in keeping conditions like diabetes, stroke and heart disease at bay.
Conducted in mice, the research showed nutrition (including overall calories and macronutrient balance) had a greater impact on ageing and metabolic health than three drugs commonly used to treat diabetes and slow down ageing.
The findings are published in Cell Metabolism.
The research builds on the team’s pioneering work in mice and humans demonstrating the protective role of diet and specific combinations of proteins, fats and carbohydrates against ageing, obesity, heart disease, immune dysfunction and risk of metabolic diseases, such as type 2 diabetes.
Senior author and Academic Director of the Charles Perkins Centre, Professor Stephen Simpson said drugs can also target the same biochemical pathways as nutrients. There has been a huge effort to discover drugs aimed at improving metabolic health and ageing without requiring a change in diet, he said.
“Diet is a powerful medicine. However, presently drugs are administered without consideration of whether and how they might interact with our diet composition — even when these drugs are designed to act in the same way, and on the same nutrient-signalling pathways as diet,” said Professor Simpson.
The researchers set out to discover whether drugs or diet were more powerful in remodelling nutrient-sensing and other metabolic pathways, as well as whether drugs and diet interacted in ways that made them more or less effective.
“We discovered dietary composition had a far more powerful effect than drugs, which largely dampened responses to diet rather than reshaped them,” said Professor Simpson.
“Given humans share essentially the same nutrient-signalling pathways as mice, the research suggests people would get better value from changing their diet to improve metabolic health rather than taking the drugs we studied.”
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SOURCE: Science Daily