Mountain environment and metabolism

Staying in high altitude environment leads to a number of very positive changes in the human body, which is connected with subtle hypoxia. One of them is to increase the activity of hypoxia inducible factor, so-called HIF (hypoxia inducible factor). This factor under the „normal” oxygen exhibited only marginal activity, and when is the oxygen deficiency activity increases significantly. It is this factor whereby climbers are able to acclimate to the conditions of low oxygen content.

 

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Action of protein HIF-1 Alpha

About 100 genes regulated by HIF-1 protein has been discovered already. This protein regulates the expression of genes involved in:

  • erythropoiesis (red blood cell count increase),
  • iron metabolism (better management of iron, which is necessary for the proper functioning of hemoglobin)
  • glucose transport (better utilization of energy substrates),
  • stimulation of a number of growth factors (promoting cell survival under stress, by its proliferation).

Particularly important is the effect on the vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF), which is responsible for the creation of new capillaries (blood microvessels, which penetrate into the tissue, feeding them). It was also shown that hypoxia inducible factor positively affects the tension of blood vessels, lowering blood pressure (Lee J. et al 2004).

 

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The presence of this protein and gene, which can be influenced, is likely due to the fact that the actual oxygen atmosphere there is a relatively short time. Thus, our ancestors (regardless of their form) have to obtain suitable adaptive mechanisms. Commissioning of these adaptive mechanisms allows the body to better use and provide two basic substrates, which are oxygen and glucose.

Because of the foregoing, conditions of high altitude are scientifically proven applicable to support the treatment of diabetes, overweight and obesity, and hypertension while reducing cholesterol. In addition, they are a great tool in the prevention of these diseases (Nikolaus C. et al 2010).