All living organisms depend on mechanisms that repeatedly monitor our stored energy in order to adapt to energy supply and demand. Activated protein kinase, or AMPk, may be an important sensor in the process of fat accumulation. The good news is that researchers are discovering ways to enhance AMPk activity and are investigating different foods that may be helpful in appetite control through increasing this enzyme.
Several specific foods are being investigated. One food being investigated on its impact on AMPk activity is barley sprout extract. While this is not yet a common table food, researchers have discovered that barley sprout extract is capable of activating AMPk in mice (Lee, et al., 2015). Black carrots are another food source being investigated with positive results (Park, et al., 2015). Extracts from mulberry fruit are also showing promise related to AMPk activity (Chan, et al., 2015). Many have long suspected that increasing our intake of water-soluble dietary fiber is another key to improving AMPk. Good sources of water-soluble dietary fiber are beans, oat bran, nuts, seeds, pears, apples and most vegetables.
AMPk is more active when we are young. As we age, the cellular AMPk activation decreases, leading to fat accumulation and loss of muscle mass. While specific foods and dietary strategies required to enhance AMPk activity have not yet been worked out completely, it is clear that our diet plays a major role in determining our fat composition and available energy as we age.
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Tracy Davenport, Ph.D., is a freelance health writer and the C.E.O. of Tracy’s Smoothie Place. She serves as the expert on a weekly radio show about health and wellness and is the author of Making Life Better for a Baby with Acid Reflux and multiple articles about the cost of caregiving. Learn more about Tracy and what healthy living services and products she can offer on her website. She can also be found on Twitter and Instagram @drinksmoothies.