London: Believe it or not, eating just
enough to survive could actually hold the key to living longer
-- at least in animals, a new study has found.
British scientists have shown how an extreme diet can
protect against the ageing process. They believe that cells do
not move through their cycle of life as quickly if they are
starved of energy.
In their study, animals which were fed an extremely
low-calorie diet were found to have greater number of healthy
dividing cells. The scientists found that a protective sheath
covering the end of important genetic information in cells was
intact, the `Daily Express` reported.
Damage to this sheath, along with a rise in the number
of non-dividing cells, are both key signs of ageing. E
older animals which adopted the diets late in their lives
experienced the same benefits, the findings suggested.
It is hoped the work could help experts understand
more about human ageing and possibly how to prevent disease.
But the scientists at Newcastle University warned that
people should not adopt radical low-calorie diets in order to
live longer as it`s still not known if the same benefits would
be gained in humans or what the risks were.
The research examined the number of ageing cells in
the livers and intestines of mice. When mice age, this type of
non-dividing cell is found in higher concentrations in these
Co-scientist Chunfang Wang said: "A very low-calorie
diet can help to extend life-span and there`s lot of evidence
that this is true. However, we need a better understanding of
what`s actually happening in an organism on restricted diet."
Added Prof Thomas von Zglinicki, who led the
study: "We don`t yet know if food restriction delays ageing in
humans, and may be we wouldn`t want it."