An amp-activated protein kinase or simply AMPK is a type of enzyme that is known for its support in regulating metabolism. The amp-activated protein kinase is different from cAMP-activated protein kinase. The two terms are not to be confused because both have different functions. Also, another term used when referring to AMPK is “5’ adenosine monophosphate-activated protein kinase”. The amp-activated protein kinase is found in body tissues. Although, it is abundantly stored in the nervous system, skeletal muscles, liver, and adipocyte (fat cell). Its activation is influenced by age, sleep behavior, genetics, physical activity, cortisol levels, and diet.
What is APMK?
AMPK plays an important role in regulating metabolism. Some scientist even referred to it as a “master regulating switch” because of its major part in managing fat composition in our body. This enzyme is found in all living creatures. However, studies have shown that as we age, AMPK production also decreases. Thus, it causes slower metabolism that significantly affects body weight, appetite, and how the body consumes energy.
AMPK and Metabolism
Primarily, AMPK production increases when we expose ourselves to what scientists refer to as beneficial stressors. It includes intermittent fasting, regular exercise, and calorie restriction. When cellular energy level is low it stimulates the uptake of fatty acid and glucose. Hence, this enzyme grew popularity especially among people trying to lose weight. And because AMPK is linked to age, its increased production may also lengthen life expectancy and improve health condition.
In the last decade, AMPK also grew popularity because of its anti-degenerative property. A slower metabolism may weaken our immune system. Consequently, it makes us vulnerable to various kinds of diseases. AMPK counteracts these effects and strengthen our immune system.
Today, some pharmaceutical companies are selling dietary supplements with supposed anti-aging properties. They claim that these supplements stimulate increased production of AMP-activated protein kinase which counteracts the effects of aging. These claims are unproven and may have adverse effects on the individual when ingested. Thus, it is advisable to ask information from a health professional before using anti-aging supplements.
Risks of Slower Metabolism
Metabolism becomes slower as we age but due to negative lifestyle, its rate may go much slower and lead to potential risks including:
- High triglycerides and cholesterol levels
- Insulin intolerance
- Bloating (increased visceral fat accumulation)
- Body age faster
- High blood sugar
- Difficulty in losing weight
Overeating, lack of physical activity and poor nutrition intake are other factors leading to a slower metabolism. Some studies also suggest that production abnormality of a certain type of hormone also contributes to a slower metabolism. Insufficient AMPK in the body increases the chances of inflammation and degenerative disorders.
Benefits of AMPK
Promotes healthy weight
The most common way to activate AMP-activated protein kinase is by intermittent fasting or restricting your calorie intake. When the body runs out of calorie to burn for energy, it’s forced to use fat and glucose instead.
A healthy amount of AMP-activated protein kinase in the body enhances the immune system that protects us from degenerative disorders. A research was made regarding AMPK effects on longevity. They noted that AMPK supports an enzyme related to insulin sensitivity. What it does is it improves mitochondria’s being released in the bloodstream. Mitochondria are linked to good health and longevity. When they decrease in level, our body might degenerate as well.
AMP-activated protein kinase also has anti-inflammatory properties. A study suggests that it may also induce higher antioxidant production.
Sources of AMPK
The amp-activated protein kinase is available in capsule form as daily dietary supplements. However, ingestion through this medium may possess potential risks. Listed below are ways of how we can stimulate AMP-activated protein kinase:
Reduce calorie intake and fasting
By restricting calorie intake, the body activates AMPK enzymes that burn fats and glucose. By fasting, it’s likely that these enzymes would burn fats and glucose completely. When energy level is low, fat cells will release a chemical compound called adiponectin. This chemical compound will induce the production of AMPK.
When an individual eats in excess of the daily recommended allowance, it hinders the activation of AMP-activated protein kinase. It allows fats and glucose to accumulate in the body.
Foods with high levels of antioxidants
Studies have shown that foods rich in antioxidants and polyphenol stimulate AMP-activated protein kinase. In addition to the effects of AMPK, antioxidants may also aid in breaking down fat and glucose contents in the body. It prevents the risk of diabetes and heart-related disease. Polyphenol may also support autophagy—prevents bacterial development and improve cell health.
Some examples of foods that have a high antioxidant level:
- Olive oil
- Leafy vegetables
- Citric fruits
Regular physical exercise improves metabolism. A faster metabolism activates AMP-activated protein kinase that burns fats more effectively. Aside from a healthy waistline, the individual may also benefit from a stronger immune system and an increased in nitric oxide in the bloodstream. Nitric oxide promotes healthy blood vessels and endothelial cells.
Exposure to low-temperature environments
One study suggests that exposure to cold temperature may increase production of AMPK. In this study, certain animals were exposed to cold environments for almost two weeks. They observed a gradual increase in a compound called brown adipose tissue. This compound contains AMPK, its role is to maintain metabolism and regulate body temperature in cold environments.
This study is inconclusive since it may have different effects on humans. It may also be unsafe to try this on people. Exposure to cold environments for two weeks may result in adverse consequence. However, there’s a therapy called cryotherapy. You may not need to expose yourself to cold environments for days but nonetheless; this therapy may give you the same effects. Cryotherapy is done in low temperature using argon or nitrogen. It is basically used for inflammation treatment and reducing pain.
Unless the doctor or health professional prescribed supplements, its regular intake is not advisable. This is because AMPK in powder form may have harmful effects.
The most popular drug around with AMPK is Metformin. However, access to this drug is difficult because it is usually prescribed to individuals with type-II diabetes. There were even cases that some individuals experience stomach problems upon using metformin.