A natural ingredient found in milk could help tackle obesity, as it prevents weight gain by burning fat in the body - even in those who enjoy a high-fat diet, scientists have discovered.

Researchers from the Ecole Polytechnique Federale de Lausanne found that the nicotinamide riboside (NR) ingredient found naturally in milk stimulates the SIRT1 gene (similar to a vitamin B compound), which helps boost the metabolism.

Interestingly, the research focused on the weight-loss benefits of NR when combined with high-fat food consumption.

milk obesity

The study, which has so far only been tested on lab mice, discovered that rodents who were given high doses of NR along with high-fat foods, burnt more fat and showed (through better running performance) greater physical fitness levels and endurance to their muscles.

Mice who were fed a high-fat diet and NR for 10-weeks gained significantly less weight (60% less) than mice who ate the same diet without the NR supplement.

Mice on NR also had better endurance performance during physical tests than those who didn’t receive NR and were generally in better shape after scientists monitored their muscle fibers under the microscope.

Scientists discovered that the natural NR product targets the metabolism-boosting SIRT1 gene in the same way as resveratrol (commonly found in red wine).

The compound works by getting ‘trapped’ within the cells of the body and enhances the activity of the mitochondria (the powerhouse of cells) shielding mice from metabolic dysfunction - a condition that leads to weight-gain and diabetes.

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Scientists are hoping to see the same effect in humans through planned tests in the future.

However, researchers warned that drinking milk will not target obesity alone and that the NR compound will have to be placed into a supplement for human consumption.

Researchers are also planning to investigate a co-factor of SIRT1 – the NAD+ - which they believe could have a similar effect on the metabolism and weight-loss.

“We’re hoping this can be translated into humans, and that (NR) will improve metabolism in humans,” said Johan Auwerz, reports Science Direct.

The study’s results were published in the Cell Metabolism journal.

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