Restricting Calories: Fountain of Youth?

There is a consensus among health professionals that avoiding obesity can help us live a long and healthy life. Now, two new studies add to evidence that it’s possible to live longer and healthier by restricting calories. Previous studies have found that rats which were placed on a very low-calorie diet lived up to 30 percent longer, and scientists have been working to see if that translates to humans. George Roth and colleagues at the National Institutes on Aging and the Arizona Center on Aging worked with monkeys, and found a 30 percent reduction in calories led to higher levels of HDL -- the “good” cholesterol that decreases the risk of heart disease. “In addition to enhanced HDL and lower triglyceride levels, we also see a small drop in blood pressure,” Roth said regarding his study, which was published in the American Journal of Physiology. “My own personal belief is... these beneficial effects that we see in calorically-restricted monkeys could be translated into people,” he stated, noting that his research could serve as a model for human studies.

The second study, published in the Journal of Clinical Endocrinology and Metabolism, showed that caloric reduction helped slow down the body’s natural decrease in the level of the hormone DHEA, one of the indicators of aging. A review article in The New England Journal of Medicine noted that, in addition to extending longevity in many animals, studies show that caloric restriction slows age-related deficits in learning, immune response, DNA repair and behavior.

Learn more about