Eating less may help people lead longer, healthier lives, according to the new results from a large, multicenter U.S. study. The findings revealed healthy, non-obese people over two years who restricted calories by 25 percent for two years, while maintaining adequate protein, vitamin and mineral intake, can significantly lower markers of chronic inflammation.
Over the past 85 years, studies conducted in animals have supported the idea that calorie restriction can increase the lifespan by reducing inflammation and other chronic disease risk factors. But the results were mixed as to whether restricting calories had a negative impact on the immune system.
Chronic inflammation has been shown to damage cells and play a major role in the development of age-related diseases such as cancer, heart disease and dementia.
This is the first study to examine these effects over two years on healthy, normal- or slightly over-weight individuals and find that caloric restriction reduces inflammation without compromising the immune system.
Cutting calories reduced inflammation without impacting immune activity
For the study, conducted by researchers at the Jean Mayer USDA Human Nutrition Research Center on Aging at Tufts University, 220 people were randomized into two groups.
The control group maintained their normal diet for the duration of the study, while the test group followed a high-satiety diet that restricted their calories by 25 percent and were given customized behavioral guidance. People in the test group also took a multivitamin and mineral supplement to prevent micronutrient malnutrition.
To maintain a 25 percent reduction in calories the test group's calorie prescriptions were reduced three times through the two-year study to coincide with their weight loss based on body fat and muscle mass.
Both inflammation and immunity biomarkers were measured before the study began, 12 months and at 24 months.
The research team found that the test group had a significant and persistent reduction in inflammatory markers with no discernible difference in immune responses from the control group at the end of 24 months.
However, while reduction in weight and body fat were most pronounced at 12 months they weren’t accompanied by a significant reduction in inflammation until 24 months.
The researchers believe that calorie restriction may be one of the most powerful non-genetic intervention to slow aging, increase our health span and the quality of our lives.
Source: Aging, online July 2016
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