Could cutting calories slow down aging?


CUTTING calories may reduce the risk of age-related diseases and may even help you live longer, a new small study suggests.
People in the study who cut their daily calories by 15 percent for two years experienced two potentially beneficial effects compared with people who kept their regular diet: They had a slower metabolism, which is a sign that their bodies were using energy more efficiently, and less “oxidative stress,” a process that can damage cells.
Both a slower metabolism and reduced oxidative stress have been linked with a lower risk of age-related diseases, such as diabetes and cancer, according to the study, published today (March 22) in the journal Cell Metabolism. The researchers think that this is because a slow metabolism leads to less oxidative stress, which, in turn, leads to less damage to cells and organs in the body.
“Restricting calories can slow your basal metabolism, and if by-products of metabolism accelerate aging processes, calorie restriction sustained over several years may help to decrease risk for chronic disease and prolong life,” lead study author Leanne Redman, an associate professor at Pennington Biomedical Research Center at Louisiana State University, said in a statement.
Still, the study was only two years long, so the researchers can’t say whether calorie restriction actually results in a lower risk of age-related diseases or a longer life. More studies that last for longer periods of time are needed to determine this.
For decades, researchers have observed that calorie restriction tends to prolong life in a number of animal species, but whether it also leads to longer life spans in humans has been unclear.
In the new study, the researchers examined the effects of calorie restriction on 53 healthy, nonobese men and women ages 21 to 50. The participants were randomly assigned to either a calorie-restriction group or a control group that ate what they wanted.
After two years, those in the calorie-restriction group lost nearly 20 lbs. (9 kilograms) on average, while those in the control group maintained their weight.
To look at changes in the participants’ metabolism, the researchers used a “metabolic chamber,” which is a sealed room that lets researchers precisely measure the number of calories people are burning.

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