The study involved twenty men who were immobile for 60 days and highlighted the negative impact long-term inactivity has on the body’s metabolic health
What happens to the body if you remain motionless for two months? Nothing good says a study just published in the journal Clinical Nutrition which involved 20 healthy boys who were bedridden for 60 consecutive days with no ability to move or exercise. The researchers of‘University at BathEngland, who worked in collaboration with the European Space Agency, found that thelong-term inactivity increases significantly blood sugar levels
even if you reduce the amount of food you eat just to avoid gaining weight.
The strict rules of immobility
For two months 20 boys between 20 and 45 years old, healthy, in perfect physical shape they remained motionless a bed tilted 6 towards the head (with legs up) at the Clinical Institute of Medicine and Spatial Physiology (MEDES) in Toulouse, France following very strict rulescommon to all experiments of Bed-Rest. The volunteers were never able to get up: they ate in bed, always maintaining the lying position and drank through a straw. Hygiene procedures (teeth brushing, hair brushing and shower) were also carried out in bed. The boys were unable to get up even to go to the bathroom and physiological activities were possible with the help of pans and parrots. To pass the time they were able to read or write, watch TV, listen to music, use the telephone, talk to each other… but always lying down. They were only allowed to move from supine to ventral or lateral position, without to stand or sit down.
What are Bed Rest studios
The upside down position is used to simulate microgravity and study the consequences on the body, especially at the cardiovascular level. This kind of studies related to immobility (precisely called Bed Rest) represent a so-called analogue of microgravity in order to be able to study what happens to the body in Space without going into Space (a much more expensive activity). Remaining lying down and still the anti-gravity muscles are not used: not having to stand up one finds oneself in a situation that is similar to that in Space (although clearly not the same thing).
The investigation carried out by the University of Bath in this case focused on the
of the participants and so on how well the body can regulate blood sugar. In 2018, work by the same team showed that exercise, even at short intervals, has a major impact on blood sugar in the short term. The new study wanted to understand what happens to the human body when movement is not possible and no physical activity is carried out for weeks or months. The volunteers ate a very restricted diet to compensate for the inactivity and prevent them from gaining weight. But even when the volunteers ate less (with a 25% reduced calorie intake and a restriction on carbohydrates) their inactivity had a profound negative impact on their blood sugar levels.
The work of the muscles is missing (and you can feel it)
Unlike other similar works that have investigated the consequences of immobility on muscles and muscle tone – it needs Matthew Cerriprofessor of Physiology at the Department of Biomedical and Neuromotor Sciences of the University of Bologna – in this study mainly the metabolic aspects and the significant result showed that despite a diet adapted to this lifestyle, blood glucose regulation is slightly altered and tends towards hyperglycemia. The reason for this effect is most likely to be found in theabsence of muscle activitythey too glucose consumers. For this reason the body is unable to reduce its production of glucose which remains longer in the blood. Two months are not enough to understand if more serious problems such as diabetes can develop.
Your blood sugar levels
In media i l
blood sugar levels among the participants increased by about 6% during the day and 10% during the night. Their ability to clear blood sugar also decreased by almost a quarter (24%). Participants actually had great difficulty controlling blood sugar which, when high, we know is an important risk factor for cardiovascular disease or diabetes. The team of researchers explained that the reduced caloric intake prevented the volunteers from reaching an even higher blood sugar than that recorded in the experiment, which would have been much higher with a normal diet.
The study for astronauts
The bed rest study was conducted by ESA (the European Space Agency) to help understand the health effects of future space missions manned for astronauts. However, the researchers say the implications are also relevant to life here on Earth, where millions of people face long-term downtime due to chronic disease, health issues or injury. It was one of the longest experiments ever conducted to study the effects of microgravity said the professor of human physiology Dylan Thompson of the University of Bath who led the research. Our findings reveal that stopping physical activity has a profound impact on physiological health. Although the glycemic changes were not as dramatic as might have been expected if they had maintained the same caloric intake as in the pre-study period we did see that there was indeed an increase in blood sugar and a decreased ability to utilize blood sugar: this This means that diet adjustments alone are not enough to overcome all the negative effects of decreasing physical activity, even if you manage to avoid gaining weight.
The Bath team is also working on countermeasures which could help people who are bedridden on Earth as well as people who go into space. Recent work by the group has shown that electrical stimulation of the leg muscles can help recreate some of the effects of exercise on blood sugar control and could therefore be used in extreme cases of immobility (think of patients bedridden due to illness or accidents). It would also be possible – adds Cerri – to use Beta 3 agonists per activate brown adipose tissue
whose purpose is not to store energy, but to consume it to produce heat. Beta 3 agonists have been tested as drugs for obesity, but so far without much success. In fact, they fail to be exclusively selective for beta 3 receptors, and their residual action on beta 2 and beta 1 receptors causes cardiovascular side effects. That said, it is always possible that more selective molecules will be developed. The other way to activate the brown adipose tissue and therefore consume more glucose exposure to coldwhich should be adequately dosed both in terms of intensity and duration
February 23, 2023 (change February 23, 2023 | 16:26)
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