Low-calorie diet may not prolong life

Monday, July 1st, 2013 | In Knowledge | Tags: , , ,

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~ Low-calorie diet may not prolong life 01 ~
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~ Low-calorie diet may not prolong life 02 ~

A low-calorie diet boosts health but does not prolong life, at least not in rhesus monkeys, scientists reported recently in a new study into a long-held link between food restriction and longevity. Spanning 23 years, the researchers found monkeys that ate fewer calories than non-dieting counterparts were healthier but did not live any longer.

Rhesus monkeys are a preferred choice for lab study as they are long-living primates like humans – their average lifespan in captivity is 27 years and the usual maximum is 40 years. The exceptionally long study, launched at the National Institute on Aging (NIA) in Maryland in 1987, saw monkeys of different ages fed a diet 30% lower in calories that others that followed a “normal”, nutritious diet.

Animals in both groups lived on average longer than wild rhesus monkeys and were heavier too. None were malnourished and they were given vitamin and mineral supplements, the researchers wrote in the journal Nature.

Those on the calorie-restricted diet had a lower incidence of diabetes, cardiovascular disease and cancer than the rest and dieting males also had lower cholesterol. However, these effect did riot translate directly to a beneficial effect in longevity over the control monkeys.

The finding seem to contradict those of other projects, including an ongoing study at the Wisconsin National Primate Research Centre (WNPRC), which has shown that rhesus monkeys placed on a restricted calorie diet lived longer.

There were many differences between the two studies that may explain the conflicting outcomes. Importantly, the WNPRC control monkeys (those whose calorie intake was not restricted) were allowed free access to food, therefore mimicking a human in charge of his own nutrition intake.

In contrast, the NIA control group was given a limited amount of food, thus resembling an ideal human diet – which may explain why they lived as long as the monkeys on the low-calorie diet. They were also given vitamin and mineral supplements and WNPRC group not.

Comparing the two approaches, a compelling picture emerges: a healthy diet does improve longevity and eating less of it may slow the onset of some diseases but will not actually prolong life.

Information via AFP-Relaxnews.


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