Longevity Diet Slows Aging in the Elderly
Elderly mice on a low calorie longevity diet, for as little as four weeks reversed many of the changes in the activity of various genes that had occurred during normal aging, according to a new study published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (September 11, 2001 98:10630-10635)
The research study uses a new technology to pinpoint which genes are active in mice at different ages, may help scientists to understand how calorie restriction extends animals’ lifespan and, eventually, to develop longevity therapies for humans. Longevity diet research in the past 60 years have consistently shown it to the only treatment that extend mammals’ lifespan, although its effectiveness in people is unproven is currently under study as well. There is no reason to expect that the result would be different in humans.
In various animal studies, longevity diet has been shown to lower the incidence of cancer and delays the onset of other age-related diseases.
Many theories have been advanced on the exact mechanism on how calorie restriction works, and recently, researchers are able to examine how longevity diet affect the function of many of the approximately 30,000 genes present in a mouse or a person.
In this study, some mice were fed a low-calorie diet — providing just enough food to prevent starvation — from the time they were weaned, and others were switched from a normal to a low-calorie diet for four weeks starting when they were 34 months old. The researchers found 20 genes whose expression increased with age. Also found were several genes associated with inflammation, a process that in the liver can contribute to the development of cirrhosis or cancer. Others genes were discovered to be involved in protecting and repairing cells and in preventing cell suicide. In 14 of the 20 genes, longevity diet completely or partially prevented the age-related changes.
The expression of 26 genes decreased with age. Some were responsible for putting the brakes on cell growth and division, and an age-related reduction in their activity could explain why mice of the strain studied often die of cancer. Others affected genes were responsible for detoxifying foreign substances such as drugs. Researchers found that prolong calorie restriction reversed the age-related changes in 13 of the 26 affected genes by 70 percent. This is highly significant because it shows that it is never too late to start longevity diet, even among the elderly.
What this may mean for calorie restriction in a longevity diet
Another perspective that helps to understand why a longevity diet may increase longevity is considering how it affects the body’s stress response. Consuming food actually engages many different functions of the body. From chewing the food, breaking it down further in the stomach, absorbing the nutrients in the gut, and then getting each nutrient to the cells that need it or storing it properly for future use. Furthermore, waste and potentially toxic metabolic byproducts need to be collected and excreted out of the body. All of this takes a great deal of work, and the more you eat the more work the body has to do, causing it stress.
The best way to minimize this stress, is simply to eat only enough to be healthy, and not dump extra calories in your body that it must spend extra work to process. Most in the developed world do not have to worry when or how they will find their next meal, but the norm is still to eat more than the body really needs. This extra workload the body constantly has to deal with becomes a constant stressor that feeds into the neuroendometabolic stress response circuits, contributing to the negative effects of stress on health and longevity.
It’s important to understand that longevity diet is not the same as starvation. In a properly conducted longevity diet program, cells are maintained at optimum nutrition through eating the right kinds of food without sacrificing nutrition. Starvation does not lead to longevity, and this confusion must be dispelled.
The best way towards longevity diet is to follow my Anti-aging Food Pyramid or my 10 week Anti-aging Protocol if you are near your target body weight. If you are more than 10-15% above your ideal body weight, follow my 12 months Detox Diet Protocol is best.