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Eating Less May Lead to Longer LIfe Spans

By Michael Cole

Research into the life spans of fruit flies has found that when their diets are restricted,l the circadian clock genes in their peripheral tissues increase amplitude, signaling longer life spans. Furthermore, when the dietary restrictions put a limit on proteins, the metabolism of fat and cycles of fat breakdown were also enhanced. By improving the flies’ fat metabolism, the researchers may have discovered a way to explain how longevity works, with further implications for human beings.

Already researchers look toward a future in which humans may be able to take a drug that emulates what happened in the flies so that they can benefit from the effects of dietary restriction without having to actually go on a diet. This might be a possibility because in the research done with the fruit flies, their circadian rhythms were genetically altered, which allowed them to live for longer periods, even while eating whatever they wanted. In contrast, researchers were able to disrupt the function of the flies genetic clocks, which nullified the benefits of a restricted diet.

Circadian Rhythm

Scientists working on the study explained that more than 10-15 percent of the body’s genome is controlled by the circadian rhythm, which regulates cellular processes including repair and metabolism. All cells in the body have a clock and how fast or slow the clocks run is dependent on the circadian rhythm, which determines when a cell dies in the tissues, fat, intestines, kidneys, etc. When the metabolism of these clocks are modulated to run slower via dietary restriction, lifespan is extended. 

By targeting circadian clocks in cells it may be possible to modulate their metabolism and extend lifespan in humans. The key to this may lie in nutrient manipulation of how fat is metabolized. Circadian rhythms regulate important biological cycles like sleep and cell birth and death. As the body ages, these circadian rhythms tend to flatten. This is why older adults need less sleep and develop wrinkles due to slower cell repair. 

When the flies observed in the study ate less food, they maintained an unusual amount of vitality even as they aged. This vitality led to them living longer lifespans than is typical for their species. What this suggests is that the less metabolic cycle cells are forced to go through by introducing food to be metabolized in the body, the longer they live. The key to living a long, healthy life may be eating smaller portions all around.

To learn more about your health, wellness and fitness, see your local chiropractor at The Joint Chiropractic in Goodyear, Ariz.

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