Smaller portions - longer life span

It may never be too late to extend life through sensible eating. A study shows that a strict, low-calorie diet increased the life span of aged mice by more than 40 per cent.

Many studies have shown that starting young mice on a restricted-calorie diet helps them live for months longer than lab animals fed a standard diet. But the new research shows even 19-month-old mice, about the human equivalent of 60 to 65 years, can have a longer life when eating fewer calories. The study appears this week in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, informs

It’s been known for decades that an animal’s lifespan could be extended by severely reducing its calorie intake, while avoiding malnourishment. Calorie restriction slows the rate of aging, as well as the development of age-related diseases. (A few hardy, if hungry, souls are testing calorie restriction on themselves to see if this holds true for humans.) But it was also thought that a restricted diet had to be started early in an animal’s life to work well. Stephen Spindler of the University of California at Riverside and colleagues started late middle-aged mice on a restricted diet and found the same benefits: The mice lived almost six months longer and the onset and progression of cancers were slowed. Genetic analysis revealed that the older calorie-restricted mice had patterns of genetic activity similar to those of mice on the diet from their youth. The researchers suggest that drugs that could mimic the same patterns of genetic activity might give the same beneficial effects, report

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