Most products claiming to provide the benefits of exercise just by taking a pill should include the caveat that they only work if you drop the pills on the floor, bend over and pick them up 100 times before swallowing. That may not be the case with a newly-discovered natural molecule that appears to really offer some of the same benefits as a workout.
The molecule is called protectin DX (PDX) and was discovered by Professor André Marette and his team of researchers at the Université Laval Faculty of Medicine, the Quebec Heart and Lung Institute Research Center, and the Institute of Nutrition and Functional Foods. PDX is a derivative of omega-3 fatty acids which are known to reduce insulin resistance caused by diets high in saturated fat. Marette first discovered that that this effect was linked to another bioactive lipid or fatty acid called protectin D1. Protectin DX, in the same family, triggers the production of the protein interleukin 6 (IL-6) in muscle cells, which also occurs during physical exercise.
Marette’s article in Nature Medicine describes how the team gave PDX to obese diabetic mice and they showed a dramatic improvement in their response to insulin, the same kind of improvement they would have shown if they spent time running on a mouse treadmill while watching a rodent news channel.
Before you cancel your gym membership and call out for pizza with a PDX topping, note that the experiment hasn’t yet been tried on humans and Marette says it’s not a substitute for a cardio workout.
Exercise has cardiovascular and other hormonal benefits that go well beyond its metabolic effects on the muscles. For us, the next step is to demonstrate the antidiabetic effects in humans and determine the receptor through which PDX acts.
Why is it always the fat mice who get the good stuff first?