How effective are anti-aging diets? Here’s what science tells us

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MANY anti-aging diets are being promoted as ways to extend your lifespan. However, much of the research on anti-aging diets has been done in animals — not humans.

Researchers caution that data on the benefits of these diets for people is limited. Speak with your doctor before you begin any new diet to make sure it’s a healthy choice for you.

For years, certain foods have been promoted as the key to a long and healthy life, from common vegetables and “healthy” fats to powders made from exotic plants.

But a number of anti-aging diets focus not on what you should eat, but instead on limiting your intake of food overall or restricting your meals to certain days or times of the day.

These diets include calorie restriction, intermittent fasting, fasting-mimicking diet, the keto diet, and time-restricted feeding.

All of these are intended to not only increase your life, but also extend the number of years you’re in good health, known as lifespan and healthspan, respectively.

Much of the research on anti-aging diets has been done in non-human organisms — from microbes to worms to rodents. One reason for this is that it’s easier to follow the entire lifespan of these creatures, because their lives are so much shorter.

Research in people is also starting to suggest that some dietary patterns may help people live longer and age more gracefully.

However, some researchers caution that data on the benefits of these diets for people is limited — especially when it comes to knowing if eating a certain way can extend the human lifespan.

“Despite their recent popularization, there is not yet strong evidence that any of the anti-aging diets studied in laboratory animals have substantial long-term health benefits in non-obese humans,” wrote Matt Kaeberlein, PhD, and his colleagues in a review in the journal Science.

In the Science paper, Kaeberlein and his colleagues reviewed existing research on anti-aging diets, focusing on studies done in rodents, and whenever possible, people. In the rodent studies, the most promising anti-aging diets involved calorie restriction.

This included the “classic” calorie restriction diet, where daily calories are reduced by 20 to 50 percent, and a variation that involves reducing overall calories but maintaining protein intake.

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