Is the famous “anti-aging diet” claim true?
Scientific and popular literature has been informing us for nearly a century that “people are what they eat,” implying that the food we eat has a direct impact on our health. To be more exact, the number of calories we consume affects our health and longevity. Diet has an unimaginable impact on illness treatment and the slowing or reversal of the aging process.
Diet has a higher impact on aging and metabolic health than the three well-known anti-aging “miracle medicines” metformin, rapamycin, and resveratrol, according to a new study published recently in Cell Metabolism by a team of researchers from the University of Sydney.
The earliest known technique to lengthen lifespan is reducing caloric intake in the absence of malnutrition. The success of this method is even more apparent in today’s era of overnutrition. In a variety of animal models, restricting calorie intake not only extends longevity but also reduces age-related illness load and functional decline.
These findings have spawned a slew of ostensibly anti-aging dietary strategies in recent years. Do these interventions, on the other hand, actually work? How do they function? Is it the amount of food intake? Or the timing of eating? Or the proportion of certain macronutrients consumed?
In a critical review published in the top international journal Science on November 19, 2021, a team of researchers from the University of Washington explored the “facts” and “fiction” of anti-aging diets, summarized the current state of the field, and focused on potential common mechanisms of action and unresolved issues in anti-aging, among others.
The earliest research on anti-aging dates back to a study in the last century, in 1917, which examined the effects of reduced food intake on the lifespan of rats. That groundbreaking experiment showed that reducing caloric intake delayed development and led to a significant increase in life expectancy in adult rats. Decades later, a series of research efforts established calorie intake restriction as the primary paradigm for anti-aging interventions.
Extensive research on “anti-aging” dietary strategies has supplied scientists with new insights and prospective clinical uses in the last decade or two. Intermittent fasting, mock-fasting diets, ketogenic diets, time-restricted eating, and dietary patterns that restrict protein or critical amino acids are examples of these techniques. Although several of these strategies have gained popularity, there are still many uncertainties about their effectiveness outside of the laboratory.
Researchers in this new study analyzed six of the most popular “anti-aging” dietary methods, as outlined above, and compared them to traditional calorie-restricted diets.
Researchers have achieved substantial breakthroughs by learning more about the underlying mechanisms of aging, which appear to revolve on rapamycin’s highly conserved mechanistic target of action (mTOR). According to a growing body of evidence, every anti-aging diet can decrease mTORC1 signaling via direct or indirect methods. For example, leucine activates mTORC1 directly that is mediated in part by the Sestrin family of proteins, which inhibits mTORC1 only when it is unattached to leucine. Calorie restriction-induced glucocorticoid signaling also inhibits mTORC1.
However, the researchers concluded that many questions remain regarding the relative importance of mTORC1’s mediating role in calorie restriction and other anti-aging interventions, as no studies have yet extensively evaluated it. While researchers concluded that Sirtuins and AMPK are equally important.
Researchers recognized that the regulation of mTORC1 is extremely complex and that little is still known about its tissue-dependent and circadian rhythm components. Whereas caloric restriction and mTOR inhibition have overlapping but distinct physiological effects, for example, rapamycin treatment does not reproduce all of the effects of caloric restriction. Thus, much remains to be learned about the various interactions between dietary nutrients, longevity pathways, and healthy aging.
Researchers said that current human-related and controlled studies suggest the health benefits of calorie-restricted diets. However, the jury is still out on whether these benefits are the result of modulating the aging process itself or simply the result of avoiding obesity.