Want to reduce the effects of aging? It may be as easy as eating less.
Does following a diet really slow down the aging process? A new study indicates that this is a distinct possibility.
The aging process refers to a gradual decline in physiological functions, increased vulnerability to disease, and death as an organism ages. Genetic, environmental, and lifestyle factors all affect aging, which is a complex and multifactorial process.
At the cellular level, aging is associated with a progressive accumulation of damage to DNA, proteins, and other molecules. This damage can result in cellular dysfunction, inflammation, and oxidative stress, contributing to age-related diseases like cancer, cardiovascular disease, and neurodegenerative disease.
According to a two-year study of 128 middle-aged adults who reduced their caloric intake by 25%, their bodies aged more slowly. The researchers at the Mailman School of Public Health at Columbia University found that the intervention’s effect slowed the aging rate by around 2 to 3%. This may not seem like much, but reducing mortality risk by 10 to 15% is sufficient. They claim the results were comparable to those who joined a smoking cessation program.
This is high praise given that quitting smoking is one of the best things a smoker can do for their health.
The U.S. National Institute on Aging researched to determine the rate of aging of the participants’ bodies by analyzing changes in their DNA, specifically chemical tags called methylation marks retrieved from white blood cells. According to the study, DNA methylation marks regulate gene expression and vary with age.
Participants were, on average, 38 years old. Around 70% were female, and 77% were White. A comparison was made between the effects of calorie restriction on 128 participants and a control group of 69. The individuals consumed healthy meals, including all essential vitamins and elements, but in lesser quantities.
One of the issues with this kind of research is that it is impossible to put individuals in a lab for two years and regulate what they consume. Each participant received 24 weeks of individual and group therapy, as well as daily meals and meal plans for a month. They were also examined for weight reduction and body fat percentage during the process.
The researchers recognize the constraints. Yet, their data revealed that those who adhered to the diet the most and reduced calories the most observed the greatest slowing of aging. They believe these results indicate “the bottom limit” of dieting’s benefits: In other words, the real-world results may be much better.
Two years is only the beginning. The researchers claim that decades of follow-up will be necessary to ascertain if the intervention changed illness onset or longevity.
Yet, the most recent study adds to the evidence demonstrating a relationship between calorie restriction and longevity, which has already been established in several other species.
In contrast, the United States and much of the industrialized world are moving in the other direction. Six years have passed since the Cleveland Clinic discovered that obesity costs Americans more years of life than smoking.
For more retirement news: