HORMONE-BALANCING AND AMPK’S ENERGY-BOOSTING AND PROPERTIES YOU NEED TO KNOW

HORMONE-BALANCING AND AMPK’S ENERGY-BOOSTING AND PROPERTIES YOU NEED TO KNOW

Adenosine 5′ monophosphate-activated protein kinase (AMPK) is an enzyme that is known as the body’s “master regulator of energy metabolism.” Why? It works as an energy sensor within our cells. Researchers believe that as we age, AMPK activity significantly decreases. This is one reason why we experience changes in appetite, body weight, energy levels, etc.

Energy depletion (or a lack of cellular energy) is really what stimulates AMPK activity. This causes more of the protein activated protein kinase (AMP) to be produced. That means some of the best AMPK activators are things we think of as beneficial “stressors.” These include calorie restriction, fasting and intense exercise.

Recently, some companies have released “AMPK activator” supplements that claim to have anti-aging effects. Certain supplements might help activate adenosine 5′ monophosphate-activated protein kinase pathways, but limited research is available right now to prove that most supplements are effective.

We do know, however, that natural AMPK activators can offer many benefits. These benefits include reducing inflammation, improving metabolic pathways and supporting healthy aging.

What Is AMPK?
AMPK stands for “adenosine 5′ monophosphate-activated protein kinase.” It is an enzyme present in all living beings that plays an important role in energy balance.

It helps determine your body’s balance between energy consumption and production. The body balances production of AMP by sensing its current AMP to adenosine triphosphate (ATP) ratio. ATP molecules are those that act as a source of fuel within cells. Energy starts as ATP within cells and eventually breaks down into AMP.

Based on your current levels of AMP and ATP, energy production and usage can be altered. This takes place via changes in your appetite, body temperature, desire for physical activity (your energy expenditure), hormone production and other processes.

Where is AMPK found? It is stored throughout tissues in the body, especially those in the brain (including the hypothalamus), liver, fat cells and skeletal muscles. Adenosine 5′ monophosphate-activated protein kinase is influenced by a number of factors, including your genetics, age, diet, sleep patterns, stress levels and exercise habits.

Related: Gynostemma Benefits (+ How to Use Jiaogulan)

Health Benefits
1. Regulates Energy Usage and Maintains Homeostasis
2. Supports Weight Loss
3. Decreases Inflammation
4. Improves Metabolic Pathways and Insulin Sensitivity
5. Can Improve Physical Performance
6. Supports Autophagy and Healthy Aging
7. Helps with Hormone Production and Fertility

1. Regulates Energy Usage and Maintains Homeostasis
One of the most important functions of AMPK is regulating energy balance and metabolism. It does this by monitoring cellular energy.

The part of your brain called the hypothalamus is considered your “command center” when it comes to your metabolism. The hypothalamus is a region of the forebrain that coordinates both the autonomic nervous system and the activity of the pituitary gland. It helps maintain homeostasis by controlling energy output, body temperature, thirst, hunger, sleep, emotional activity, hormone production and other bodily activities. Hypothalamic AMPK restores energy balance by making you want to eat more in order to increase energy intake.

To sum up a complex process, when your hypothalamus senses that energy levels are low, adenosine 5′ monophosphate-activated protein kinase is stimulated. Energy expenditure is decreased while appetite is increased since this helps you acquire more energy in the form of calories and use less on energy output. When cellular energy is high, the opposite typically happens. Your body responds by decreasing your appetite and increasing energy expenditure. This can include increased fidgeting, body temperature and sweating associated with movement.

Ghrelin, one of our primary “hunger hormones,” is shown to stimulate AMPK in the hypothalamus. (3) On the other hand, inhibition of adenosine 5′ monophosphate-activated protein kinase in the hypothalamus leads to suppressed appetite. While ghrelin causes increased AMPK in the brain, it inhibits it in fat tissue and the liver.

2. Supports Weight Loss
AMPK can cause changes in hunger and satiety, as well as impact how cells use and store energy.

Studies suggest that adenosine 5′ monophosphate-activated protein kinase can help stimulate fat-burning and weight loss under certain conditions. It helps muscles use more glucose for energy, controls appetite and increases the amount of energy spent on physical activity. Homeostasis controlled in part by AMPK activation can also lead to increased body temperature, reduced inflammation and improved hormone balance. All of those help you maintain a healthy weight.

This works in the opposite direction as well. For example, adenosine 5′ monophosphate-activated protein kinase is tied to adequate thyroid hormone production. When T3 thyroid hormone production is increased, AMPK is activated in muscles.

3. Decreases Inflammation
This enzyme has anti-inflammatory potential. It is shown to promote antioxidant activity, building defenses against factors that accelerate aging, such as a poor diet, chemical/toxin exposure and chronic stress. Studies show that adenosine 5′ monophosphate-activated protein kinase increases the production of certain antioxidant proteins, including NRF2 and superoxide dismutase.

AMPK signaling may also help prevent chronic conditions tied to inflammation, such as cardiovascular disease and diabetes, for several reasons. It can help decrease production of fatty acids, cholesterol, triglycerides and proteins. It’s involved in fatty acid catabolism and stops fatty acid synthesis. This can have positive effects on metabolic/heart health.

4. Improves Metabolic Pathways and Insulin Sensitivity
AMP-activated protein kinase is a major cellular regulator of lipid and glucose metabolism.

In order to maintain homeostasis of blood sugar levels, AMPK activation promotes glucose uptake and utilization. At the same time, it decreases glycogen synthesis. Signaling pathways can increase glucose uptake within muscles so they continue to have a source of fuel. AMP-activated protein kinase also stimulates the breakdown of glucose for energy in order to form more ATP.

Hypothalamic AMPK is capable of increasing glucose production if it senses that cellular energy is low. Glucose is the body’s preferred source of energy. It is used in high quantities by the brain. Adenosine 5′ monophosphate-activated protein kinase can help prevent below-normal blood sugar levels, also called hypoglycemia. Hypoglycemia symptoms include dizziness, weakness, headaches, and fainting.

5. Can Improve Physical Performance
During exercise, AMPK increases glucose uptake and fatty acid oxidation. Another way it regulates energy usage is by supporting mitochondrial activity. This is important for keeping your metabolism high and your muscles fueled.

Due to its potential performance-enhancing effects, certain AMPK-activating substances have even been banned by The World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA). For example, the AMPK activator AICAR is banned by WADA.

6. Supports Autophagy and Healthy Aging
Certain animal studies conducted on worms, fruit flies and rodents have found evidence that AMPK signaling can support cellular renewal and activate autophagy. Autophagy is a physiological process in the body that deals with destruction of cells. As a 2015 article published in the journal Cell Metabolism puts it, “When energy supply is low, organisms respond by slowing aging and increasing resistance to diverse age-related pathologies.”

Adenosine 5′ monophosphate-activated protein kinase seems to help regulate processes that turn over destroyed cell organelles, damaged mitochondria and other degraded material in order to form new cells. In this way, AMPK helps the body age and deal with stress in a healthier way. Autophagy needs to be upscaled and increased as free radicals/oxidative stress take a toll on cells.

7. Helps with Hormone Production and Fertility
Reproductive hormone production and fertility are highly dependent on energy status. For example, when it’s sensed that the body is being under-fed, over-stressed and and overexerted, sex hormone production (such as estrogen, testosterone and progesterone) is decreased. This leads to issues like irregular periods, infertility, mood changes, sexual dysfunction and more. When adenosine 5′ monophosphate-activated protein kinase senses that the body is nourished and safe, hormonal balance is easier to achieve.

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