For a long time there has been good reason to think that there is some form of calorie restriction that could slow aging. However, it has always been very difficult to know if this strategy works for humans.
A recent study clarifies a long confusion about whether restricting calories is appropriate. The study showed that restricting calories helps rhesus monkeys live longer, and researchers say their work shows that it is “very likely” that humans can experience the same benefits for longer.
Discover the type of diet that could reduce the aging process .
How to reverse aging?
Previously, scientists have shown that in animals such as mice, fruit flies and certain worms and yeasts, cutting a significant amount of calories (about 30% in a recent study with mice) could extend life and health, including the one of the brain. However, human beings are quite different from these creatures, since what works for a mouse or a fly does not end up working in the same way in a person.
In primates such as monkeys, which are much more closely related to us, the evidence of caloric restriction (CR) has been more conflictive. At least one major study from the University of Wisconsin (UW) has shown that monkeys fed restricted diets live significantly longer. On the other hand, another important study by the National Institute on Aging (NIA) indicated that calorie-restricted monkeys probably would not live longer, although they did seem healthier.
The effects of diet, sex and age
There is new research done by UW scientists and the NIA helps explain and resolve these differences. In this study, it is argued that when certain differences are taken into account in the way the studies were carried out, their conclusions are not in conflict. The restriction of calories really helps the monkeys to live longer and be healthier, however, there are certain specificities about diet, sex and age at which the process begins that are key to making dietary intervention work.
In the original studies the monkeys were allowed to eat as much as they wanted; however, the food was healthy and they consumed a smaller portion than they were used to. In the NIA, what they did is to start restricting the calories in the monkeys, since that worked for the mice, but it turned out that those differences had a great effect.
The unhealthy processed food that the monkeys ate in UW, was what shortened their lives, while the young monkeys, unlike the young mice, were not healthier despite their diets being restricted.
In this way, it can be said that caloric restriction only prolonged life when that intervention did not begin until the monkeys reached adulthood.
Why does caloric restriction only work in adult monkeys?
Monkeys age similarly to humans, suffering from many diseases similar to measures that age. The researchers believe that this information is relevant to us. The effect of processed foods on shelf life indicates that even a small change in diet could be the difference between a longer and healthier life and a shorter one.
The fact that this intervention only works in adult or older monkeys, shows how this type of process needs to be developed differently for primates, including people, as well as for mice. Young monkeys need and require a good amount of healthy food.
Interestingly, the researchers also found that, especially for male monkeys, it is harmful to eat whatever they want and gain too much body fat , something that may be relevant to humans as well.
What effects does caloric restriction have on people?
The key finding of this new research is that it seems to be able to change the biological “fact” that primates become more susceptible to diseases as they get older. It can also be mentioned from these findings that humans respond to calorie restriction in ways very similar to rhesus monkeys.
But that does not mean that things are totally resolved. It has not yet been fully proven that caloric restriction works in people, and it is possible that humans may not live longer and healthier lives if they eat less than normal as they get older.
Caloric restriction is beneficial for some individuals; however for others not. Even if this does not work in humans, how many people really want to reduce their caloric intake to a “normal” level by 30%? The difficulty in getting people to adhere to something like that is one of the reasons why there is so little research on this effect on people.
Many researchers are inspired by the growing body of data that shows that CR or some form of fasting can prolong life and make people healthier. Some think that eating normally most of the time, but cutting calories for a short period of time regularly (in some form of intermittent fasting) could lead to the same benefits.
Therefore, it is clear that we need food to live and grow; However, it seems that there is more and more evidence that shows that after a certain point, eating less could help us live longer.
Related Wiki Link: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Aging_(food)