Eating less food can lead to longer life: Study
If you want to reduce the levels of inflammation throughout your body, delay the onset of age-related diseases, and live longer, eat less food.
That's the conclusion of a recent study by scientists from the US and China that provides one of the most detailed reports to date of the cellular effects of a calorie-restricted diet in rats.
While the benefits of caloric restriction have long been known, the recent results show how this restriction can protect against aging in cellular pathways.
"We already knew that calorie restriction increases life span, but now we've shown all the changes that occur at a single-cell level to cause that," says Juan Carlos Izpisua Belmonte, a senior author of the study and a professor at the Salk Institute for Biological Studies in La Jolla, California. "This gives us targets that we may eventually be able to act on with drugs to treat aging in humans."
Aging is the highest risk factor for many human diseases, including cancer, dementia, diabetes and metabolic syndrome. Caloric restriction has been shown in animal models to be one of the most effective interventions against these age-related diseases.
And although researchers know that individual cells undergo many changes as an organism ages, they have not known how caloric restriction might influence these changes.
In the study, Belmonte and his collaborators compared rats who ate 30 percent fewer calories with rats on normal diets.
Many of the changes that occurred as rats on the normal diet grew older didn't occur in rats on a restricted diet; even in old age, many of the tissues and cells of animals on the diet closely resembled those of young rats.
Overall, 57 percent of the age-related changes in cell composition seen in the tissues of rats on a normal diet were not present in the rats on the calorie restricted diet.
Some of the cells and genes most affected by the diet related to immunity, inflammation and lipid metabolism. The number of immune cells in nearly every tissue studied dramatically increased as control rats aged but was not affected by age in rats with restricted calories.
The team is now trying to utilize this information in an effort to discover aging drug targets and implement strategies towards increasing human life and health span.