Can Aging be Slowed with Caloric Reduction?

In a world where, for many, food is readily accessible at all hours of the day, it’s easy to consume more calories than we actually need for sustained energy or to provide our bodies with essential nutrients.  Researchers have also been looking closely at the effects of caloric intake on aging and chronic disease.  A new study has found that reducing caloric intake by 2 or 3 percent could result in a reduction in mortality risk equivalent to stopping smoking. 

According to a Medical News Today report, a new study, published in the journal Nature Aging, found by looking at certain epigenetic biomarkers, that reducing calories led to a slowing of the pace of aging in study participants.  The first controlled human study of its kind showed that calorie restriction may be one way to slow or reverse age-related molecular changes, increasing longevity and potentially helping to prevent chronic illnesses. 

Researchers used a precise calorie reduction and assessment system called CALERIE – Comprehensive Assessment of Long-Term Effects of Reducing Intake of Energy.  The system was designed to carefully reduce energy intake without robbing participants of essential nutrients.   A team of nutritionists and dietitians worked with the participants and physicians to ensure diets protected the health and safety of those enrolled in the study. 

Researchers looked at three DNA age biomarkers, measured in blood samples, to determine if the dietary interventions were having an effect on the rate at which study participants were aging over a period of two years.   While the evidence from the study suggests that caloric restriction may help to slow aging in humans, a longer study is needed and people would potentially need to reduce caloric intake over many years to achieve the longevity benefits indicated by the new research. 

There are many health benefits with even modest weight loss for adults who are carrying a few extra pounds.  According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, losing just 5 to 10 percent of your total body weight can yield significant improvements in blood pressure, blood cholesterol and blood sugars – reducing the risk of chronic diseases related to obesity.  A gradual but steady weight loss of 1 to 2 pounds each week through diet and exercise is more likely to help adults keep weight off with sustainable lifestyle changes.  

Learn more about lifestyle and longevity by following this link to a recent TED talk by health and wellness expert Dan Buettner.