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What makes a healthy diet healthy?
Age in itself is a risk factor for numerous complaints such as cancer, heart diseases and neurodegenerative diseases such as Alzheimer's. Exercise and a healthy diet are rightly recommended as prevention. But what exactly makes a healthy diet healthy and why it can extend life expectancy is still not sufficiently understood in many areas. An international research team has taken a giant step closer to solving this puzzle.
Thanks to state-of-the-art technology, international researchers with the involvement of the University of Greifswald were able to develop a method that can be used to measure changes within proteins. Modified proteins play an important role in the development of serious diseases and for a healthy aging process. By measuring these changes, the team wants to finally solve the puzzle of healthy aging. The study results were recently presented in the renowned journal "Nature Communications".
90 years of aging research
As early as the early 1930s, researchers from experiments with rats recognized that restricted calorie intake increased the life expectancy of mammals. Today, not only the number of calories but also the composition of the food is blamed for the positive aspect on the lifespan and health status. The underlying mechanisms why these effects occur have not yet been understood at the molecular level. Over the past ten years, numerous studies on the aging process have made the amino acid lysine a key factor for healthy aging due to the enormous progress in quantitative mass spectrometry.
What does the amino acid lysine have to do with aging?
Lysine is an amino acid within proteins. It acts as a building block for many different proteins and occurs, for example, in enzymes, in blood plasma, in antibodies, hormones, bones, skin, tendons and in the muscles. Since the body cannot produce lysine itself, the amino acid must be absorbed through food. As the researchers report, diseases such as cancer and neurodegenerative diseases lead to changes in the proteins. These changes particularly affect lysine. In the course of the diseases, chemical modifications are attached to this amino acid, which then change the basic function of the entire protein. According to the research team, this promotes the development of serious diseases.
New method makes protein changes measurable
"So far it has not been possible to exactly determine the amounts of this modification to the lysines in all proteins of a cell," explains study leader Professor Dr. Michael Lammers in a press release on the study results. With the newly developed method, this is now feasible. This enables the positions to be found that are of high relevance and that are changed in the event of illness.
Is the Pill Aging Healthy?
“We will now be able to find targeted proteins that are promising for a therapeutic approach,” summarizes the professor. The researchers even believe it is possible to mimic the positive effects of a healthy diet with an active ingredient without strict control of the diet being necessary. (vb)