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Exercise in a bottle is next food frontier for Nestlé

Tucked away near Lake Geneva, a handful of Nestlé SA scientists are quietly working on realising every couch potato’s dream: exercise that comes in a bottle.

The world’s biggest food company says it has identified how an enzyme in charge of regulating metabolism can be stimulated by a compound called C13, a potential first step in developing a way to mimic the fat-burning effect of exercise. The findings were published in the science journal Chemistry & Biology in July.

While any slimming smoothies or snack bars are a long way off, eight scientists at the Nestlé Institute of Health Sciences in Lausanne, Switzerland, are looking for natural substances that can act as triggers. Nestlé’s commitment to this type of project illustrates how the company is working to address consumers’ disenchantment with packaged food by formulating products that can do more than sate hunger.

“The border between food and pharma will narrow in the coming years,” said Jean-Philippe Bertschy, an analyst at Bank Vontobel in Zurich. “Companies with a diversified, healthy food portfolio will emerge as the winners.”

The numbers already point that way. Consumers’ appetite for food perceived to bring a health benefit, such as gluten-free pasta and organic juice, is forecast to outpace growth in traditional packaged food through 2019 after doing so almost every year in the past decade, according to research firm Euromonitor International.
On the ground floor of a box-like building located on the campus of the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology in Lausanne, the Nestlé scientists are sorting through natural substances such as fruit and plant extracts to see which ones could modulate the enzyme called AMPK, which acts as a metabolic master switch to facilitate the body’s use of sugar and fat.

The goal is to develop a nutritional product that mimics or enhances the effect of exercise for people with limited mobility due to old age, diabetes or obesity, Kei Sakamoto, the scientist who oversees research on diabetes and circadian rhythms at Nestlé, says. Testing on animals probably won’t start for several years, he adds.

“The enzyme can help people who can’t tolerate or continue rigorous exercise. Instead of 20 minutes of jogging or 40 minutes of cycling, it may help boost metabolism with moderate exercise like brisk walking. They’d get similar effects with less strain,” Sakamoto notes.
AMPK’s role is crucial “as energy is needed for all the key physiological processes in the body, from secreting a hormone to moving a muscle and even brain function,” Nestlé said in a statement disclosing its research on the enzyme.

The push into science nutrition means Nestlé is going after targets that pharmaceutical companies have pursued for years…..

Bloomberg: Read the full article

Additional reading:

Nestlé Scientists: Future functional foods could echo exercise effect estlé scientists: future functional foods could echo exercise effect

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