Is calorie restriction the fountain of youth? (2018)

Calorie restriction can be described as any diet that restricts the intake of calories a person consumes. It doesn’t have to be specific although the right way to do such diets involves a lot of planning. It has been proven for a long time through various experiments, that caloric restriction results in an increase in the lifespan of individuals. Why this happens can be explained through various ways, but i will try to keep it simple in this post as metabolism is a very complex subject.

In normal ageing, metabolism slows down, our mitochondria, the machines our cells use to make energy slow down. This is normal, and this by itself isn’t what causes all the problems that occur in older ages. One explanation that happens to also explain why calorie restriction works, is that our bodies accumulate damage faster when their metabolic rate is lower (as in older people) and simultaneously excessive amounts of calories are consumed. While in a restricted diet such damage is avoided, by providing the body only the nutrients it can metabolize. Also, caloric restriction results in a shift in the metabolic processes in our bodies from carbohydrate to fatty acid metabolism. This may result in less metabolic wastes, thus less damage and a longer lifespan.

In general, a slower metabolism results in a healthier, longer lifespan. The fact that old age is associated with a slower metabolism, but not health is very interesting. Calorie restriction though, shows us a possible explanation for this. If an aged individual restricts his caloric intake, thus forcing his cells to shift to a more efficient metabolic process then as a result his cells might avoid damage and survive for longer.

As we age there are many other changes in our cells, and our metabolism that can accumulate and eventually result in disease. Specifically, senescent cells, cells that are incapable of dividing, accumulate and those cells have different metabolic characteristics. NAD+, the protector of our genome can be downregulated, and if cells are indeed stuck in a senescent state then any damage will not be able to be repaired. This results in dead cells, dysfunctional tissues and eventually dysfunctional organs.

How does calorie restriction affect all that?

  • It ensures that metabolism is slow.
  • The most efficient metabolic pathways are utilized.
  • Calorie restriction diets tend to be a lot healthier and balanced than regular diets.
  • Less cell damage.
  • Experimental evidence show that indeed lifespan is indeed extended under such diets.
  • Ageing phenotypes (disease) avoided.
  • Possibly postpone the transformation of some cells into senescent cells.

So, calorie restriction is good, but in a way that remain uncertain and with results that while significant, are very small. But it’s not that bad, there are great news if you would like to extend your lifespan. Certain companies are trying to research and develop drugs and therapies that repair age-related damage from our bodies and increase our chance of surviving for longer. It’s like those detox “therapies”, but they have actual science behind them. The annoying part is that as with everything involving health and drugs, it has to go through a very long process until it can be characterized as “safe” and being able to be sold.

For more details you can read the articles i read for this post linked in the sources at the end of this post. And for more articles on science including genetics, technology and more, go to

Sources: Biphasic Modeling of Mitochondrial Metabolism Dysregulation during Aging
Hallmarks of Cellular Senescence
Mitochondrial Dysfunction Induces Senescence with a Distinct Secretory Phenotype

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