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Severely restricted diet linked to physical fitness into old age

BUFFALO, NY -- Severely restricting calories leads to a longer life, scientists have proved.

New research now has shown for the first time that such a diet also can maintain physical fitness into advanced age, slowing the seemingly inevitable progression to physical disability and loss of independence.

The study, using a rat model of life-time caloric restriction, showed that the diet reduces the amount of visceral fat, which expresses inflammatory factors that in humans cause chronic disease and a decline in physical performance and vitality across the lifespan.

The study appears in the October issue of Journals of Gerontology Series A: Biological Sciences and Medical Sciences.

Have we finally discovered the Fountain of Youth?

No. But we may be getting a little closer.

This is the first study to report that caloric restriction reduced production in visceral fat of the inflammatory cytokine IL-6 and enhanced performance on overall physical function assessments, said Tongjian You, Ph.D., assistant professor of exercise and nutrition sciences in the UB School of Public Health and Health Professions and principal investigator.

In addition, rats that ate a normal diet lost a significant amount of lean muscle mass and acquired more fat, while calorie-restricted rats maintained lean muscle mass as they aged.

The study was conducted with male rats in three age groups -- 18, 24 and 29 months, comparable to ages 50-70 years in humans -- that had been fed either a normal or

40-percent calorie-restricted diet from birth. The animals were put through tests to determine grip strength, muscle tone, stamina and swimming speed. Data also were collected on whole body mass, lean body mass, fat mass, percent body fat, the ratio of fat-to-lean body mass, amount of visceral fat and the amount of pro-inflammatory cytokines and C-reactive protein, a marker of chronic inflammation.

Results showed that animals on the restricted

Contact: Lois Baker
716-645-5000 x1417
University at Buffalo

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