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Sensible Diet, Exercise and Weight Control Increases Longevity

A new research has shown just how a sensible diet, exercise and weight control helps people live a longer life.

Researchers from Howard Hughes Medical Institute have found that all these factors increase longevity by reducing signalling through a specific pathway in the brain.

This insulin-like pathway governs growth and metabolic processes in cells throughout the body. The pathway is activated when insulin and insulin-like growth factor-1 switch on proteins inside the cell called insulin receptor substrates (Irs).

Other researchers have already shown that reducing the activity of the pathway in roundworms and fruitflies extends lifespan.

Because reducing insulin-like signalling in the neurons of roundworms and fruitflies extends their lifespan, the researchers decided to examine what would happen when they knocked out one or both copies of the Irs2 gene only in the brains of mice.

Mice lacking one copy of the Irs2 gene in brain cells also showed an 18 percent longer lifespan, and the near complete deletion of brain Irs2 had a similar effect.

Lead author Morris F. White said that the finding had come as a bit of a shock for the researchers.

The idea that insulin reduces lifespan is difficult to reconcile with decades of clinical practice and scientific investigation to treat diabetes, he said.

In fact, based on our work on one of the insulin receptor substrates, Irs2, in liver and pancreatic beta cells, we thought more Irs2 would be good for you.

It reduces the amount of insulin needed in the body to control blood glucose, and it promotes growth, survival and insulin secretion from pancreatic beta cells, he added.

In earlier work, the researchers had found that knocking out both copies of the Irs2 gene in mice reduces brain growth and produces diabetes due to pancreatic beta cell failure. However, in the new study, when the re
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