Eat Less Protein, Live Longer?

Photo via flickr by abolotnov

A new “dietary restriction” (not just calorie restriction) theory about how diet affects aging suggests that the drop in calories is not solely responsible for lifespan extension — in some species at least, perhaps it is also the accompanying drop in dietary protein.

Protein restriction is much less difficult to maintain than calorie restriction and may be more powerful in reducing insulin-like growth factor 1 (IGF-1) in humans (a promoter of aging), says Luigi Fontana, a professor of medicine at Washington University and head of the Division of Nutrition and Aging at the Italian National Institute of Health. Earlier findings from School of Medicine researchers had suggested that eating less protein may help protect against certain cancers that are not directly associated with obesity.

Fontana draws his conclusions from his studies of people who are practicing calorie restriction (“CRONies” —short for Caloric Restriction with Optimal Nutrition). Fontana and colleagues previously have found that people on the very low-calorie diet have low blood levels of cholesterol and triglycerides, blood pressure scores equivalent to those of much younger individuals, a lower risk of developing diabetes and reduced body fat. These markers indicate less secondary aging.

Vegans and vegetarians have another advantage: proteins in meat and other animal products have high levels of methionine; studies show that cutting methionine lengthens life to a similar degree as calorie restriction.

via Kurzweil AI

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