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Lighter Meals May Bring Longer Life
Date:7/9/2009

Monkey study is best evidence yet that fewer daily calories boost lifespan

THURSDAY, July 9 (HealthDay News) -- A new study that found that a lower-calorie diet slowed the aging process in monkeys could be the best proof yet that restricted diets might do the same for humans.

"The big question in aging research is, 'Will caloric restriction in species closely related to humans slow aging?'" said Richard Weindruch, senior author of a paper appearing in the July 10 issue of Science. "This is the first clear demonstration that, in a primate species, we're inducing a slowdown of the aging process -- showing increased survival, resistance to disease, less brain atrophy and less muscle loss.

"This predicts humans would respond similarly," added Weindruch, professor of medicine at the University of Wisconsin-Madison and an investigator at the Veterans Hospital in Madison.

Another expert noted that, despite some highly publicized studies in certain species, the link between restricted eating and longer lifespan has been far from proven.

"The idea that dietary restriction extends lifespan in all species is not true. Many strains of rats and mice do not respond. In some strains, it's actually deleterious," explained Felipe Sierra, director of the biology of aging program at the U.S. National Institute on Aging (NIA), which supported the new study. "The fact that it didn't work in some mice but it does seem to work in monkeys is surprising and it gives us hope."

But there's a larger question: how to change humans' increasingly lax eating habits. "This [finding] doesn't give me hope that humans are going to go into dietary restriction," Sierra said.

Another expert agreed. "I think this is wonderful and it has promising benefits but the problem is not that we don't know this stuff, the problem is doing it, is getting people to eat less," added Marianne Grant, a registered dietitian at Texa
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