Neuroscientists have shown that a calorie-restricted diet almost stops gene expressions related to aging and dementia.
Dr. Stephen D. Ginsberg, who presented the new study’s results at the Society for Neuroscience annual meeting, said:
“Our study shows how calorie restriction practically arrests gene expression levels involved in the aging phenotype — how some genes determine the behavior of mice, people, and other mammals as they get old.”
Mice in the study were fed 30% fewer calories, which likely reduced some of the aspects of aging which can lead to diseases like Alzheimer’s.
The life-preserving effect of calorie restriction in animals has been known for some time, but the same effect is not proven in humans.
This study is the first to examine how a calorie restricted diet affects the expression of over 10,000 genes.
Female mice were chosen for this study because, like female humans, they are more susceptible to dementia than males.
The effect of the restricted diet was tested by examining the hippocampal region of the brain, which is one of the first to be affected by Alzheimer’s.
The hippocampus is central to learning and memory, and damage to this area with aging is one of the main causes of the symptoms of Alzheimer’s disease.
The results showed that the calorie restricted diet almost stopped the natural rise and fall of almost 900 different genes related to memory and aging.
Exactly how this huge range of changes provides a protective effect against the effects of aging is not yet known.
While the results do not point to a “fountain of youth,” Dr. Ginsberg said it does:
“…add evidence for the role of diet in delaying the effects of aging and age-related disease.”
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