Fewer Calories May Mean Longer Life

Just a little less food each day may slow aging, rat study shows

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THURSDAY, June 8, 2006 (HealthDay News) -- A slight reduction in daily calorie intake may do more than just help control weight -- it may also slow aging, according to a new study with rats.

The scientists found that feeding rats 8 percent fewer calories a day and moderately increasing their activity levels extended the rodents' average lifespan and significantly reduced the negative effects of cellular aging on liver function and overall health.

An 8 percent reduction would amount to a few hundred calories in an average human diet, while moderate exercise would be equivalent to taking a short walk.

"This finding suggests that even slight moderation in intake of calories and a moderate exercise program is beneficial to a key organ such as the liver, which shows significant signs of dysfunction in the aging process," study senior author Christiaan Leeuwenburgh, an associate professor of aging and geriatric research at the University of Florida College of Medicine, said in a prepared statement.

The study appears in the current issue of Antioxidants and Redox Signaling.

Previous research found that a 20 percent to 40 percent reduction in calories slowed aging damage in animals and humans. This study suggests that even small cuts in calorie intake can have a major beneficial impact on health.

More information

The U.S. National Library of Medicine has more about calories.

SOURCE: University of Florida, news release, May 2006

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