Ever wonder why kids can down bags of Halloween candy and not have any problems, but adults suffer for days after a junk-food binge?
Researchers at the Buck Institute think they may have found the answer: A quirk of genetics allows young bodies to adapt to changes in diet — a mechanism that is lost with age.
The findings, published in the journal Cell Reports, are based on studies of fruit flies, but have significant implications for people, too.
"In normal young animals Foxo turns on and off quite easily, allowing for a seamless adjustment to changes in diet," said lead researcher Jason Karpac. "The process is evolutionarily conserved, it protects young animals and helps guarantee their survival."
But as we age, Foxo stops responding as well, which disrupts metabolism and can cause inflammatory conditions in the aging gut.
"It has been proposed that our modern high-sugar/high fat diets can lead to misregulation of evolutionarily conserved dietary responses," said researcher Heinrich Jasper. "That may be the case. Metabolism is a very complex process — lots of things can go wrong which increases stress in the animals."
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