The research team, based in California, detailed the cellular effects of eating food in different quantities – and when a calorie restricted diet is best implemented. “We already knew that calorie restriction increases life span,” said the senior author of the paper, Professor Juan Carlos Izpisua Belmonte. “But now we’ve shown all the changes that occur at a single-cell level to cause that.”
Belmonte recognised that ageing is the highest risk factor for many human diseases, including cancer, dementia, diabetes and metabolic syndrome.
What’s metabolic syndrome?
Metabolic syndrome is the medical term for a combination of diabetes, high blood pressure and obesity.
Having metabolic syndrome puts you at significant risk of heart disease and stroke.
Prior animal models have shown that caloric restriction is one of the most effective interventions against age-related disease.
The cells came from fat tissues, liver, kidney, aorta, skin, bone marrow, brain and muscle.
Many of the cell changes that occurred in the rats on a normal diet didn’t occur in the rats with a restricted diet.
Even in old age, the tissues and cells of the rats on a calorie-restricted diet resembled those of younger rats.
In addition, the brown adipose fat tissue expressed more inflammatory markers in the rats on a normal diet.
Co-author Professor Jing Qu explained: “The primary discovery in the current study is that the increase in the inflammatory response during ageing could be systematically repressed by caloric restriction.”
Another contributor, Rodriguez Esteban, said: “People say that ‘you are what you eat,’ and we’re finding that to be true in lots of ways.
“The state of your cells as you age clearly depends on your interactions with your environment, which includes what and how much you eat.”
How much are you supposed to eat?
The general recommended daily intake is 2,000 calories for women, and 2,500 calories for men.
However, your age, how active you are, and your height can influence how many calories you need to consume.
You can check your body mass index (BMI) to check whether you’re underweight, at a healthy weight, or are overweight.
People who are overweight can lose excess pounds in a healthy way by using up more energy than they consume.