Weight loss at high altitude reflects evolutionary adaptation

London: Have you experienced weight loss while holidaying in the hills? No worries as weight loss at altitudes actually reflects an evolutionary adaptation that protected our ancestors' bodies.

Weight loss at high altitudes may not be a detrimental effect but rather is likely an evolutionarily-programmed adaptation, according to a study.

"The release of ketones and amino acids in body at altitude may reflect an evolutionary adaptation that protected our ancestors' bodies when tissue hypoxia arose during injury or illness," said Andrew Murray from department of physiology, development and neuroscience at University of Cambridge.

This may be relevant to critically-ill patients today, who lose muscle mass rapidly and do not benefit from nutritional support that aims to maintain calorie intake.

"Perhaps wasting is, in fact, saving," Murray added.

Low oxygen causes fat and protein to be broken down, leading to the release of ketones and amino acids which act as metabolic fuels.

Also, ketones enhance the efficiency of oxygen use by the body whilst both ketones and certain amino acids protect cellular components from the detrimental effects of a low-oxygen environment.

The study was published in the journal BioEssays.

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