Can We Live A Longer Life Through Calorie Restriction And Diet Alone?
For many years researchers working with laboratory mice have demonstrated consistently longer lives among mice who were fed a calorie restricted diet. This means that mice who received the same blend of nutrients, but with less overall calories, lived longer and in many cases, quite substantially longer. Thirty to forty percent longer is very common and something called the “methuselah prize” is awarded to the scientists who produce the longest living mice.
Many people have speculated that calorie restriction will also work in primates, including humans. Several theories exist, but one notion is that the body switches its most primitive regulatory mechanisms toward preservation of the cells, the tissues and the organism during times of starvation or deprivation and switches many of its main functions away from other goals such as reproduction. So in that mode the immune system works with a heightened effect to combat diseases like cancer and cardiovascular disease.
Does this idea work in larger animals? A recent study published in the Journal of Science adds more evidence that calorie restriction prolongs life, this time in primates. The study from the University of Wisconsin performed by lead researchers, Ricki Colman and Richard Weindruch, followed groups of Rhesus monkeys who were fed normal diets and calorie restricted diets of approximately 30% less calories. The monkeys fed calorie restricted diets appear to be living longer and are dying less, at least from causes that are related to aging.
If a calorie restricted diet markedly prolongs the life of mice and also now seems to prolong the life in Rhesus monkeys, would it also prolong the life in humans? Future studies will answer that question.
Do we even need these future studies? To answer the question, more on that in a future blog post.