Cutting calories beats exercise for staying young

June 7, 2006 in Nutrition Topics in the News

Cutting calories beats exercise for staying young

Study findings from Washington University in St. Louis have found that while exercise helps ward off chronic ailments such as obesity, diabetes, and heart disease that can shorten a normal lifespan, only cutting calories appears to slow down the primary aging process.

Researchers found that eating a low-calorie, nutritionally balanced diet lowers concentrations of a thyroid hormone known as T3, which controls body temperature, cell metabolism, and the production of free radicals - all of which are important aspects of aging and longevity. Calorie-restriction also decreases levels of the inflammatory protein tumor necrosis factor (TNF)-alpha.

Researchers report in the Journal of Clinical Endocrinology and Metabolism that the combination of lower T3 and TNF levels may slow the aging process.

In the study, researchers compared thyroid hormone levels of 28 adults consuming a self-imposed calorie-restricted diet with that of 28 sedentary adults consuming a typical Western diet and 28 endurance athletes who were also consuming a Western diet.

The calorie-restricted group consumed about 1,800 calories per day, whereas those on the Western diet took in about 2,700 calories per day.

Resaerchers observed reduced T3 concentrations only in the calorie-restricted group. T3 concentrations were 30 percent lower in the calorie-restricted eaters compared with the exercisers, even though percent body fat was similar between the two groups.

These latest findings were published in the Journal of Clinical Endocrinology and Metabolism.

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