Eat Less, Live Longer: Restricted Diet Can Slow Aging

February 26, 2019 8:32 am33 commentsViews: 113

The latest article on the relationship between a calorie-restricted diet and aging appeared in the April 16 issue of the journal Science. A multi-institutional team of nutrition and longevity researchers, led by Luigi Fontana, MD, PhD, co-authored a review of nutrition-related anti-aging studies to date and concluded that restricting calories, whether in animals or humans, beneficially affects the same molecular pathways related to aging.

What is a Calorie Restricted Diet?

Basically, a calorie-restriction diet, for those who are overweight, involves eating fewer calories than the body needs to maintain its present weight, while still providing an adequate level of vitamins, minerals and other nutrients. Varying levels of caloric restriction have been used in previous studies, but a 20 to 30 percent reduction is typical.

It is well documented that losing weight can directly improve health. Obesity is associated with numerous health maladies, including heart disease, high blood pressure type two diabetes, sleep apnea, exacerbated asthma and certain cancers. But in addition to the obvious benefits, eating less can reduce the damage that typically occurs as a person ages.

What is the Relationship Between Eating and Aging?

Metabolism (cellular respiration) is the process of turning food energy into ATP, a form of energy that the cells of the body can use for many different cellular activities and reactions. When ATP is produced during cellular respiration, mainly through use of the electron transport chain, free radicals are generated which can create oxidative stress within the body.

These free radicals, although beneficial in some respects, are also potentially dangerous in that they can damage DNA as well as increase the development of atherosclerosis, cancer, inflammatory diseases, and several other conditions typically related to aging. In contrast, dietary restriction, which results in less production of ATP, has been found to reduce development of these same conditions.

Diet Restriction and Nutrient-Sensing Pathways

Dr. Luigi Fontana, the lead author of this latest study, and his co-authors, found that cutting caloric intake between 10 and 50 percent decreases the activity of nutrient-sensing pathways, such as insulin-like growth factor (IGF-1), glucose and TOR (target of rapamycin). Reducing the activity of these pathways can be accomplished several ways—by restricting the diet, from genetic mutations or from chemical inhibitors. Reducing calories consumed is the one factor that a person can voluntarily control, and doing so is likely to considerably increase not only lifespan but also decrease problems with aging-related diseases.

So those who need to shed pound to reach a healthy weight ca benefit doubly from their efforts—reducing the likelihood of developing obesity-related illnesses and slowing the aging process.

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