While we all wish there was a fountain of youth out there to slow down the aging process, a new study has emerged revealing that a 15 percent cut in calories over the span of 24 months can help slow down an individual’s metabolism when it comes to aging and age-linked illnesses.
After 12 months on the calorie-reduced diet, the research team saw the metabolic rates of participants decrease tremendously, which continued in the next 12 months. This decrease led to an overall reduction in oxidative stress, something that has been linked to cancer, diabetes, as well as Alzheimer’s.
In fact, CNN reported that caloric-restriction research done on animals in the past has also proved to extend their mortality by 25 percent.
Fascinated by the above statistic and wondering if the same would apply to humans, lead author, Leanne M. Redman, Louisiana State University’s Pennington Biomedical Research Center and her research team launched the Comprehensive Assessment of Long-term Effects of Reducing Intake of Energy (CALERIE) study along with the National Institute on Aging.
The study team executed small-scale initial experiments at first, in order to answer, “what type of caloric-restricted diets could participants adhere to?” Therefore, some of the pilot experiments focused on diet only reductions, others went for physical activity only, while others focused on half-exercise and half-diet.
Another question the team wanted to determine was the level of caloric restrictions that would have an impact on aging and its biomarkers; biomarkers are biological measurements that distinguish between those who live longer versus the average life expectancy.
After these experimental studies, the National Institute on Aging offered additional funding for two larger studies, and Redman and her team began a focus on decreasing calories by 25 percent, by eating alone. Females between 25 to 45 years of age and males from 25 to 50 participated; with approximately half of the participant overweight, but not obese, and the other half normal weight. Participants were allowed to eat what they wanted; however, they were also given supplements and vitamins to ensure they were getting their nutritional requirements.
Each individual was provided with a scale and rather than calculating caloric intake daily, weight loss was the indicator of approximate calorie reduction over time.
And even though participants did not hit the 25 percent caloric reduction number, the results were quite remarkable, according to Redman, with the 15% calorie decrease they did hit.
Study participants lost about 20 pounds by the end of the first 12 months and maintained that weight into the second 12-month phase of the study.
Not only did this calorie restrictive diet slow participants’ metabolism, it also decreased their sleep metabolic rate by 10 percent; as well as reducing their oxidative levels as well, which mimics the healthy aging signs that are produced in those long-lived individuals who make it to their 90s and 100s birthdays.