Science Questions

How does reduced calorie intake increase life span?

Tue, 2nd Oct 2012

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Katy K Kins, via Twitter asked:

Through what mechanism does reduced calorie intake in mice and primates increase life span?


Michael -   There's been some very compelling evidence in invertebrates, in flies and in nematode worms that reduced calorie intake is somehow boosting the cellís ability to withstand all kinds of stress.  So, the shortage of nutrients for those cells is a stress in itself.  By switching on the resistance to that, it also switches on resistance to many other kinds of stress as well.  So thatís the best that we understand at the moment that it seems to be some kind of general upregulation of ability to withstand stress.

Ben -   And I think itís probably important to point out that when weíre talking about calorie restriction, weíre not talking about not having that extra doughnut or having a slightly smaller bowl of cereal in the morning.  These calorie restriction experiments are really quite extreme, arenít they?

Michael -   Yes, they are quite severe.  I do know that there are some human studies going on to test this, but I certainly wouldnít like to be a subject in those experiments.


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