Calorie restriction: a key to longevity

Aging is associated with a progressive decline in the function of several organs. At the same time, this increases the risk of developing several chronic diseases:

– cardiovascular
– Type 2 diabetes
– different types of cancer
– neurodegenerative diseases such as Alzheimer’s

If aging is inevitable, the appearance of these diseases is not. It has been known for several years that lifestyle factors such as the absence of smoking, regular physical activity, a diet mainly composed of plants and the control of body weight can greatly reduce the risk of developing these diseases and improve life expectancy. healthy life.

Caloric restriction decreases the onset of chronic diseases and prolongs life

Calorie restriction (decreased energy intake, but without a deficiency in essential vitamins and minerals) is another factor that is attracting a lot of interest.
A very large number of studies have in fact clearly shown that a reduction in calorie intake increases the longevity of several simple organisms by 30 to 50%. Like yeasts, fruit flies (flies) or worms. Likewise in different species of mammals such as rodents and primates. For example, in rhesus monkeys (whose genome is 93% identical to ours) calorie restriction is associated with a decrease in the incidence:

– type 2 diabetes
– cardiovascular diseases
– cancer
– neurode-generations
– as well as an increase in longevity.

The cells of old individuals resemble those of young individuals

A recent study suggests that these improvements are a consequence of the direct effects of calorie restriction on the expression of several genes involved in aging. For about a year, the researchers fed rodents a normal diet or a low-calorie diet. Namely with calories reduced by 30%. They subsequently isolated from the two groups of animals no less than 168,703 cells from 40 different organs.

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Using a technique that sequences the genes present in each cell, they noticed that many of the changes that occur during aging in normally fed animals do not occur in those subjected to calorie restriction.
This phenomenon is particularly pronounced for genes involved in inflammation. For example, while the number of inflammatory cells [les neutrophiles en particulier] present in the organs increases sharply in animals that were fed normally, this increase is not at all observed in those whose caloric intake was reduced.

In other words, the cells of older animals that eat less resemble those of younger ones! Since chronic inflammation is a real spark plug for all chronic diseases, this suggests that calorie reduction could represent a simple way to reduce this inflammation and reduce the risk of these diseases.

Reduce inflammation and caloric intake by eliminating ultra-processed foods

We must not hide it, the omnipresence of food in our environment means that eating less is quite a challenge.
Challenge made even more difficult by the fact that more than half of the calories consumed come from ultra-processed industrial foods. The very high caloric density of these foods bypasses our satiety systems and causes an overconsumption of calories which leads to the accumulation of fat.
Reducing the consumption of these foods in favor of natural foods, not industrially processed, therefore represents an interesting first step for anyone seeking to reduce their calorie intake.

Intermittent fasting to stay young and healthy

Another approach, increasingly studied, is to alternate periods when food intake is normal with more or less prolonged periods of fasting. This is called intermittent fasting. A popular form of this type of fasting is time-restricted eating. Calorie intake is limited to one period of the day. For example, skipping breakfast or having an early dinner, followed by a 12+ hour fast that includes the sleep period.

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Several preclinical studies have shown that this type of diet decreases inflammation, improves insulin sensitivity and prevents or delays the progression of several chronic diseases.


Fontana l and l partridge. Promoting health and longevity through diet: from model organisms to humans. cell 2015; 161: 106–118.

Mattison ja et al. Caloric restriction improves health and survival of rhesus monkeys. common nature 2017; 8:14063.

Ma s et al. Caloric restriction reprograms the single-cell transcriptional landscape of rattus norvegicus aging. cell 2020; 180:984-1001.

Mattson mp et al. Impact of intermittent fasting on health and disease processes. aging res. rev. 2017; 39: 46-58.

* Presse Santé strives to transmit medical knowledge in a language accessible to all. In NO CASE can the information given replace medical advice. []

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