Low-Protein, High-Carb Diet Boosts ‘Longevity’ Hormone

Paleo or pale-no? Contrary to popular belief, scientists have found that low-protein and high-carb diets help stimulate a hormone with life-extending and obesity-fighting benefits.

AsianScientist (Oct. 10, 2016) – Research from Australia suggests that a low protein, high carbohydrate diet may be the most effective for stimulating a hormone with life-extending and obesity-fighting benefits. The findings were published in Cell Metabolism.

Previous studies have shown that fibroblast growth factor 21 (FGF21), the so-called ‘fountain of youth’ hormone produced primarily in the liver, plays a role in curbing appetite, moderating metabolism, improving the immune system and extending lifespan. It is also currently being used as a therapeutic target for diabetes, though little is known about how this hormone is triggered and released in the body.

Researchers from the Charles Perkins Center of the University of Sydney have found that diets high in carbohydrates and low in protein are the best for boosting levels of FGF21 in mice. The researchers fed 858 mice one of 25 diets that varied in protein, carbohydrate, fat and energy content. These diets ranged from five to 60 percent protein and five to 75 percent carbohydrate and fat.

The study revealed that when high carbohydrate diets increased FGF21 levels, the mice compensated for the excess by burning more energy. Conversely, in a starvation state, FGF21 promoted energy conservation.

“Despite the popularity of high protein Paleo diets, our research suggests the exact opposite may be best for us as we age—that a low protein, high carbohydrate diet was the most beneficial for late life health and longevity,” said lead author Dr. Samantha Solon-Biet.

Solon-Biet added that the nutritional context in which FGF21 is most elevated is dependent on the balance of protein to carbohydrate. This balance was also shown to be important in how this hormone helps to mediate protein hunger.

“Discovering more about how FGF21 is activated opens the way for nutritional interventions to chronic health problems, including as a potential drug target for the treatment of diabetes and other metabolic disorders,” said co-author Professor Stephen Simpson, academic director of the Charles Perkins Center.

The article can be found at: Solon-Biet et al. (2016) Defining the Nutritional and Metabolic Context of FGF21 Using the Geometric Framework.


Source: University of Sydney; Photo: Pexels.
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