Study #1

According to a study carried out by a team led by María Blasco, the director of the Spanish National Cancer Research Centre (CNIO) and head of the Telomeres and Telomerase Group, a sustained lowering of food intake over time results in an increase of telomere length — the ends of chromosomes — in adult mice, which has a protective effect on the DNA and genetic material.

These beneficial effects on the youth of the chromosomes translate to a lower incidence of cancer and other age-related illnesses. The journal PLOS ONE is to publish the details of this study in its online edition this week.

A lower incidence of cancer and better health

To carry out the study, researchers used young mice — just three months old — and reduced their caloric intake by 40% before observing them until the end of their life cycle.

“We see that mice that undergo caloric restriction show a lower telomere shortening rate than those fed with a normal diet,” says Blasco. “These mice therefore have longer telomeres as adults, as well as lower rates of chromosome anomalies,” she adds.

To study the effects of this phenomenon on the health of the mammals, researchers observed the incidence of age-related illnesses like cancer. The mice that had been fed a lower calorie intake showed a reduction in the incidence of cancer. Furthermore, these mice also showed a lower incidence of other age-related illnesses such as osteoporosis, greater glucose uptake or improvements in motor coordination.

When the researchers carried out these same experiments with a variety of mice that produce more telomerase — a protein that lengthens telomeres and protects chromosomes — they observed that these mice not only enjoyed better health but also lived up to 20% longer.

“We believe that such a significant increase in longevity is due to the protective effect against cancer produced by caloric restriction — incidents fall by 40% if we compare them with the mice that produce more telomerase and have a normal diet — and, added to the presence of longer telomeres, this makes the mice live longer and better,” says Blasco.

Despite the effects of caloric restriction depending on the genetic characteristics of each organism, this study opens the way to studying the effect other factors and lifestyle habits, such as smoking or exercise, might have on aging.

Furthermore, it is calculated that there are currently more than 10,000 people in the world on some form of controlled caloric restriction, so the observation of these individuals will be decisive in discovering the effects of this type of diet on humans.

Study #2

Research presented at the British Society for Research on Ageing conference, held July 15-16, 2010 in Newcastle, England reveals that calorie restriction, even started later in life, reduces cellular senescence: the point at which at which a cell can no longer replicate, which has been hypothesized to be a major cause of aging due to its impact on the body’s tissues.

Researchers at the Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council Centre for Integrated Systems Biology of Ageing and Nutrition (CISBAN) at Newcastle University fed adult mice a calorie restricted diet for a short period of time beginning in adulthood and found a decrease of the accumulation of senescent cells in their livers and intestines, which normally accumulate high amounts of senescent cells with age. They also found that the animals’ telomeres, which are protective caps on the ends of the chromosomes that prevent errors as DNA replicates, were better maintained and markers of cumulative oxidative tissue damage were reduced.

“Many people will have heard of the theory that eating a very low calorie diet can help to extend life span and there is a lot of evidence that this is true,” lead researcher Chunfang Wang commented. “However, we need a better understanding of what is actually happening in an organism on a restricted diet. Our research, which looked at parts of the body that easily show biological signs of ageing, suggests that a restricted diet can help to reduce the amount of cell senescence occurring and can reduce damage to protective telomeres. In turn this prevents the accumulation of damaging tissue oxidation which would normally lead to age-related disease.”

“It’s particularly exciting that our experiments found this effect on age-related senescent cells and loss of telomeres, even when food restriction was applied to animals in later life,” added Professor Thomas von Zglinicki, who contributed to the work. “This proof of principle encourages us at CISBAN in our search for interventions that might in the foreseeable future be used to combat frailty in old patients.”

Health Benefits of Intermittent Fasting:

Besides length of life span there are other health benefits to intermittent fasting. It can help your heart, energy, brain, and blood sugar control, plus it reduces inflammation. This in turn can help you prevent disease or manage any health problems that you have. Benefits of intermittent fasting include:

> Weight loss

> Reduces inflammation

> Increases control of blood sugar

> Improves brain function

> Optimizes your metabolism

> Uses fat as your primary fuel

> Increased energy

> Better focus

> Improves blood pressure

> Improves heart health and endothelial function

> Initiates long-term appetite control

> Increases beneficial intestinal bacteria

> Lowers core body temperature, conserves lean muscle mass, and increases human growth hormone, which are all markers of longevity

> Slows aging

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