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Lesser Calories for Longer Life

Scientists have long tried to find ways and means to slow down aging. Recent research has revealed that calorie restriction may be the answer to extend life//.

At the Wisconsin National Primate Research Center laboratory, rhesus monkey Matthias at 28 is losing his hair, lugging a paunch and getting a face full of wrinkles.

However in the cage next to his, gleefully hooting at strangers, one of Matthias’s lab mates, Rudy, although a little older is the picture of monkey vitality. He is thin and feisty, pirouetting toward a proffered piece of fruit. Rudy and primates like him owe their vigor to certain simple lifestyle modifications called calorie restriction, which involves eating about 30 percent fewer calories than normal while still getting adequate amounts of vitamins, minerals and other nutrients.

So far aside from direct genetic manipulation, calorie restriction is the only strategy known to extend life consistently in a variety of animal species.

Over the last year, scientists have found that calorie-restricted diets have been shown in various animals to affect molecular pathways that are involved in the progression of Alzheimer’s disease, diabetes, heart disease, Parkinson’s disease and cancer.

Researchers studying dietary effects on humans have even claimed that calorie restriction may be more effective than exercise at preventing age-related diseases.

These findings have cast doubt on long-held scientific and cultural beliefs regarding the inevitability of the body’s decline as well suggesting that other interventions, which include new drugs, may retard aging even if the diet itself should prove ineffective in humans.

In this endeavor a newly synthesized form of resveratrol — an antioxidant present in large amounts in red wine — is already being tested in patients. It may eventually be the first of a new class of anti-aging drugs. Extrapolating from recent animal findings, Dr. Richard A.
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