Can Calorie Restriction Slow the Rate of Aging in Humans?
A recent study published in Nature Aging has shown that long-term calorie restriction may have a small effect on the DNA methylation measure of the pace of aging. The study, conducted by researchers at Columbia’s Butler Aging Center, involved 220 healthy men and women aged 21–50 divided into two groups. The intervention group followed a 25-percent calorie-restricted diet, while the control group ate normally. The study’s carefully designed calorie reduction ensured that participants did not lose out on essential nutrients.
The researchers used three age biomarkers, or “aging clocks”—PhenoAge, GrimAge, and DunedinPACE—to assess the impact of restricting the caloric intake. The analysis revealed that while the changes measured using DunedinPACE did not translate to a reduction in biological age using two earlier epigenetic clocks, GrimAge and PhenoAge, a 2–3% rate decrease was linked to a 10–15% reduction in mortality risk, similar to the effect of smoking cessation.
The authors note that the study’s calorie reduction was carefully designed to lower energy intake without depriving participants of essential nutrients. An investigation is underway to evaluate if the intervention had lasting impacts on healthy aging, based on the follow-up of trial participants.
Joint author Dr Calen Ryan said: “Our findings are important because they provide evidence from a randomised trial that slowing human ageing may be possible. They also give us a sense of the kinds of effects we might look for in trials of interventions that could appeal to more people, like intermittent fasting or time-restricted eating.”
Fellow author Dr Sai Krupa Das added: “Our study of the legacy effects of the CALERIE™ intervention will test if the short-term effects observed during the trial translated into longer-term reduction in ageing-related chronic diseases or their risk factors.”
Healthy dietary patterns, such as those focusing on consuming more whole grains, fruits, vegetables, nuts and legumes, were associated with a 20% reduction in total mortality, as well as a lower risk of mortality due to cardiovascular disease or cancer. These associations were consistent in different racial and ethnic groups.
Overall, the study suggests that it may be possible to slow the rate of aging in humans, a phenomenon that could have a major impact on mortality risk.
0. “Long-term caloric restriction has a small effect on the DNA methylation measure of the pace of aging” News-Medical.Net, 13 Feb. 2023, https://www.news-medical.net/news/20230213/Long-term-caloric-restriction-has-a-small-effect-on-the-DNA-methylation-measure-of-the-pace-of-aging.aspx
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