Improving quality of life and functionality in our older lives is a subject of much interest. Many older adults are at risk of having a shorter life span due to unhealthy diets, poor lifestyle choices and the threat of chronic diseases. A new study aimed at lifting the lid on what a person can do in their older lives to ensure a longer life has been revealed. According to the study, eating this much or this little could make all the difference.
Eating less could be the key to a longer life, according to a new study.
Restricting calories may enhance the immune system, reduce levels of inflammation throughout the body, delay the onset of age-related diseases and lead to living longer.
Scientists from the United States and China highlighted the benefits of eating less food.
Study senior author Professor Juan Carlos Izpisua Belmonte, of the Salk Institute in California, said: “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.
“This gives us targets that we may eventually be able to act on with drugs to treat ageing in humans.”
Ageing is the highest risk factor for many human diseases including cancer, dementia, diabetes and metabolic syndrome – a cluster of conditions that increase the risk of heart disease, stroke and type 2 diabetes.
Calorie restriction has been shown to be one of the most effective interventions against these age-related diseases.
The new paper, published in the scientific journal Cell, compared rats that ate 30 percent fewer calories to rats on normal diets.
The animals’ diets were controlled from age 18 months to 27 months – the equivalent to a human following a calorie-restricted diet from age 50 to 70.
Researchers compared old and young mice on each diet and found many of the changes that occurred in rats on the normal diet didn’t occur in rats on a restricted diet.
Even in old age, many of the tissues and cells of animals on the reduced diet closely resembled those of young rats.
The study is the most detailed report to date of the cellular effects of a calorie-restricted diet in rats.
Co-corresponding author Professor Guang-Hui Liu, of the Chinese Academy of Sciences, said: “This approach not only told us the effect of calorie restriction on these cell types, but also provided the most complete and detailed study of what happens at a single-cell level during ageing.”
Prof Jing Qu, also a co-corresponding author, added: “The primary discovery in the current study is that the increase in the inflammatory response during ageing could be systematically repressed by caloric restriction.”
The team is now trying to use the findings to identify ageing drug targets and work towards increasing life and health span.
The NHS said: “An ideal daily intake of calories varies depending on age, metabolism and levels of physical activity, among other things.
“Generally, the recommended daily calorie intake is 2,000 calories a day for women and 2,500 for men.
“The term calorie is commonly used as shorthand for kilocalorie. You will find this written as kcal on food packets.
“To lose weight in a healthy way, you need to use more energy than you consume by eating a healthy, balanced diet with fewer calories while increasing your physical activity.”
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