Posted on Feb 20, 2017, 6 a.m.
Restricting calories can decelerate the cellular aging process.
Can eating less actually help you live longer? To understand the answer to that question it’s important to know a bit about how cells in the human body work. Biology 101 tells us that a single cell is actually a complex matrix of parts that work together to support life. One of the key components needed to sustain life is protein which cells work to produce. Proteins are in every part of the human body from hair to organs to fingernails. It’s the critical element that allows organs to function and bodies to grow.
One cell part, the ribosome, is responsible for the production or synthesis of that necessary protein. There is good news about ribosomes and bad news. The good news is that they work efficiently. The bad news is that they wear out and constantly need to be repaired.
Scientists now believe that it’s the wearing out/repairing process in ribosomes that impacts aging in humans. Researchers have found a correlation between the aging process and the speed with which ribosomes work. If the ribosomes slow down it appears to give them more time to repair themselves, which in the long run allows them to function longer, hence a reduction in the aging process.
In a study at Brigham Young University conducted on mice, researchers controlled the amount of food given to two different groups. While both groups of mice were fed enough food to sustain life, one group was allowed to eat as much as they wanted. The other group was fed a more limited diet. The mice with the restricted diet lived longer, had more energy, were healthier, and appeared “younger” than their counterparts. These conclusions support earlier research that also links the number of calories consumed with a long lifespan.
This research does not offer proof of the Fountain of Youth and people should not automatically assume that counting calories will ensure a longer lifespan. This study was with mice and needs to be conducted on humans to offer conclusive proof. Additionally, there are other factors that influence lifespan and the assumption that caloric intake alone will result in a longer life is not reasonable. It does, however, indicate that a clear understanding of how bodies use food may help people make wiser decisions about dietary choices.
The popular idea that “beauty is only skin deep” can be laid to rest when it has become clear that at least the aging process goes on at a deeper cellular level.
Brigham Young University. "How eating less can slow the aging process." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 13 February 2017.