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Thinner and younger

Can eating a low-calorie yet nutritionally balanced diet extend human life? Preliminary research suggests it might, so researchers at Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis are launching a long-term study to find out.

In an editorial in the April 5 issue of the Journal of the American Medical Association, Luigi Fontana, M.D., Ph.D., assistant professor of medicine at Washington University and an investigator at the Istituto Superiore di Sanita in Rome, Italy, says calorie-restricted diets point to possible mechanisms of aging and suggest ways to intervene and modify its effects.

In January, Fontana and colleagues found that after an average of six years on calorie restriction, people's hearts functioned like the hearts of much younger people. And a team from the Pennington Biomedical Research Center at Louisiana State University in Baton Rouge is reporting that six months of calorie restriction reduces two key markers of aging: fasting insulin levels and body temperature.

More than a decade ago several researchers, including John O. Holloszy, M.D., professor of medicine at Washington University, demonstrated that stringent and consistent caloric restriction increased the maximum lifespan in mice and rats by about 30 percent and protected them against atherosclerosis and cancer.

Human study has been difficult because calorie restriction requires a very strict diet regimen, both to keep the total number of calories low and to insure that people consume the proper balance of nutrients. Some people from a group called the Calorie Restriction Society are devoted to limiting their caloric intake in hopes of improving their health and extending their lives. Society members, who call themselves CRONies (Calorie Restriction with Optimal Nutrition), have developed ways to eat low calorie/high nutrition diets.

Fontana has done extensive research with CRONies, most recently reporting in the Jan. 17 issue of the Journal o
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Source:Washington University School of Medicine


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