Caloric Restriction: The defense against aging

Caloric Restriction: The defense against aging

Worried about getting old? It’s simple. Eat less and you could live longer. This is the view held by an increasing number of medical professionals, scientists and nutritionists around the world including experts at the Calorie Restriction Society. These beliefs are based on extensive research which suggests that caloric restriction (CR) can actually slow aging and reduce the incidence of disease, ultimately prolonging life!

CR has been investigated by gerontologists for more than 60 years and provides the only intervention tested to date in mammals (typically mice and rats) that repeatedly and strongly increases maximum life span while retarding the appearance of age-associated pathologic and biologic changes. Although the large majority of rodent studies have initiated CR early in life (1-3 mo of age), CR started in mid-adulthood (at 12 mo) also extended maximum life span in mice. There is evidence to suggest that age-associated increases in oxidative damage may represent a primary aging process that is weakened by CR. With regards to testing on primates, recent studies in monkeys subjected to CR support the notion of human translatability.

CR should not be confused with regular weight loss diets. In fact, weight loss is regarded as a side effect, not a goal. The main objective is to achieve a longer and healthier life by eating fewer calories, while maintaining a regular balance of vitamins, minerals and other essential nutrients. Following this diet brings about a reduction in the white adipose tissue mass and this has been proposed as a principal factor in longevity.

The pathways influenced by caloric restriction

The proteins altered by CR seem to be associated with several different cycles, including the glucose and lipid metabolic pathways which were consistent with increased lipid biosynthesis. The expression of proteins involved in the production of Oxalacetate and NADPH and in lipolysis and lipid biosynthesis was enhanced. In addition, certain insulin receptors were also increased by CR which was consistent with a higher response to lipogenic stimuli.

Other protein expression changes induced by CR gave improved protection against oxidative stress by halting the age-associated reduction in the levels of several antioxidant enzymes and decreasing the levels of stress-induced proteins.

Both CR and aging also changed the expression of proteins involved in the cytoskeleton, iron storage and energy metabolism as well as other proteins with currently unknown functions in adipose tissue.

The CR-induced changes are in line with reported microarray studies and will help to understand the molecular mechanisms behind the lifetime extension and the suppression of the effects of aging.

In the long term, the results could also lead to the identification of novel biomarkers of aging and possible targets for mimetics of CR that could provide the same outcome: an extended lifespan, without having to follow a rigorous and controlled diet.

Read more about calorie restriction and the molecular pathways that slow aging, improve health

Maria Konovalenko



Filed under Article, Life Extension, Science

4 responses to “Caloric Restriction: The defense against aging

  1. Maria,

    Do you know my friend Chris Patil? He’s a Post-Doc at Buck Institute and an “expert” on this topic

    I am not certain your assertion that calorie restriction is translatable to humans is entirely accurate. Lets hope it is proven true.

  2. David Tryansky

    Actually have read about researchers who have examined the effects of CR over 6 decades of data on human Japanese males – Here is a link to the article:

  3. Pingback: Does extreme calorie restriction (under 1000 a day) cause rapid weight loss or does it slow the metabolism? | Weight Loss Fat Loss ® - Jogging To Lose Weight - Burn Fat

  4. “The National Institute of Health is reporting that CR is also doing something positive with the controlling mechanisms of aging metabolism. It appears that CR provides a boost to the process of autophagy. Autophagy is the way in which cells remove damaged components in order to recycle the materials into new replacement parts. Several lines of research indicate that when specific types of damaged cellular components remain in the cell, they cause problems over time and contribute to age-related decline.”

    Excerpt From: Mike Stair. “200 calories Every 2 hours.” iBooks.

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