Aging is associated with a gradual decline in the functions of many organs. At the same time, this increases the risk of developing many chronic diseases:
– heart and blood vessels
Type 2 diabetes
Different types of cancer
Neurodegenerative diseases such as Alzheimer’s
If aging is inevitable, then the emergence of these diseases is not. It has been known for several years that lifestyle factors such as not smoking, regular physical activity, a plant-based diet, and controlling body weight can significantly reduce the risk of these diseases and improve life expectancy.
Calorie restriction reduces the onset of chronic diseases and extends life
Calorie restriction (low energy intake, but without a deficiency in essential vitamins and minerals) is another factor that attracts a lot of attention.
In fact, quite a large number of studies have clearly shown that reducing caloric intake increases the longevity of many simple organisms by 30-50%. Such as yeast, fruit flies (flies) or worms. Likewise in various types of mammals such as rodents and primates. For example, in rhesus monkeys (whose genome is 93% identical to ours) calorie restriction is associated with a lower incidence of:
Type 2 diabetes
– As well as increasing longevity.
Older cells are similar to young cells
A recent study suggests that these improvements are a consequence of the direct effects of caloric restriction on the expression of several genes associated with aging. For about a year, the researchers fed the rodents a normal diet or a low-calorie diet. That is, with a 30% calorie reduction. Then they isolated from the two groups of animals no less than 168,703 cells from 40 different organs.
Using the technology of sequencing the genes present in each cell, they observed that many of the changes that occur during aging in normally fed animals do not occur in those subject to calorie restriction.
This phenomenon is particularly pronounced for genes involved in inflammation. For example, while the number of inflammatory cells [les neutrophiles en particulier] The presence of organs increases sharply in animals fed normally, and this increase is not observed at all in those whose calorie consumption was reduced.
In other words, the cells of older animals that eat are less similar to the cells of younger animals! Since chronic inflammation is a true spark for all chronic diseases, this suggests that reducing calories can be a simple way to reduce this inflammation and reduce the risk of these diseases.
Reduce inflammation and calories by cutting out ultra-processed foods
We must not hide it, the ubiquitous presence of food in our environment means that eating less food is quite a challenge.
The challenge is made more difficult by the fact that more than half of the calories consumed come from ultra-processed industrial foods. The very high caloric density of these foods bypasses our satiety regimes and causes an excessive consumption of calories which leads to the accumulation of fat.
So reducing consumption of these foods in favor of natural, rather than industrially processed foods is an interesting first step for anyone looking to reduce their calorie intake.
Intermittent fasting to stay young and healthy
Another approach, which has been increasingly studied, is to alternate periods when eating is normal with more or less prolonged periods of fasting. This is called intermittent fasting. One common form of this type of fasting is time-restricted eating. Calorie intake is limited to one period of the day. For example, skip breakfast or eat an early dinner, followed by a 12+ hour fast including bedtime.
Several preclinical studies have shown that this type of diet reduces inflammation, improves insulin sensitivity, and prevents or delays the development of many chronic diseases.
Fontana L and L Partridge. Promoting health and longevity through diet: from model organisms to humans. cell 2015; 161: 106-118.
Mattison JA et al. Restricting calories improves the health and survival of rhesus monkeys. Shared Nature 2017; 8:14063.
What s et al. Caloric restriction reprograms the single-cell transcriptional landscape of aging Norvegicus rat. cell 2020; 180:984-1001.
Mattson Rep et al. The effect of intermittent fasting on health and disease processes. Precision aging. Review. 2017; 39: 46-58.
* Presse Santé strives to impart medical knowledge in a language accessible to all. In no way can the information provided replace medical advice.
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