Glycerol diet for long life?

11 May 2009
Posted by Chris Smith.

Researchers in the US have discovered that living on a diet made up solely of glycerol could double your lifespan - if you're a yeast, that is.

Yeast CellsPrevious studies have found that severely restricting calories can also double the lifespan of yeast, but in this new research, published in the journal PloS Genetics, Valter Longo and his team have found a more filling alternative.

The scientists tried feeding glycerol to yeast after they discovered that yeast that had been genetically engineered to have a much longer lifespan also showed increased activity of genes that produce glycerol. The yeast also have low activity levels of a molecular pathway known as TOR1/SCH9, which is thought to be important for extending lifespan in many different animals from worms to mice.

At the moment this work only applies to yeast but it is certainly intriguing. Longo suggests that it may be possible to extend even the lifespan of human by changing the makeup of our diet.  We know from previous studies that extreme calorie cutting can extend human lifespan, although - who would want to live a life without cake anyway? Perhaps changing the energy sources in the human diet may also have an effect on lifespan.

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