PUMPING IRONY: Eat Less to Live Longer

A new study suggests that cutting back on calories can extend your lifespan.

baby flexing while eating cereal
Cut back on those calories and you can be young forever!

I like to eat, you like to eat, we all like to eat. But the latest trend in longevity research suggests that you’re going to live longer if you don’t eat too much.

Results of a study out of Washington University School of Medicine, published earlier this month in the journal Cell Metabolism, showed that mice that were fed a low-calorie diet exhibited the signs of aging later in their life than a control group.

That’s because a specific protein, called Sirt1, triggers activity in the brain’s hypothalamus, which apparently makes those mice stronger and more vital.

Here’s how lead researcher and study author Shin-ichiro Imai, MD, PhD, put it:

“In our studies of mice that express Sirt1 in the brain [as opposed to body tissue], we found that the skeletal muscular structures of old mice resemble young muscle tissue. Twenty-month-old mice (the equivalent of 70-year-old humans) look as active as five-month-olds.”

When translated to human lifespans, this could mean an extra 14 years for women and seven years for men, Imai explained, in a statement released by the university. And this could mean that scientists may someday be able to locate and manipulate a “control center of aging and longevity” in the brain to “maintain youthful physiology and extend life space in other mammals as well.”

I’m not sure what to make of all this, to be honest. Does it mean that I should cut back on my 2,000-calorie diet if I want to live longer? Or should I just wait for some pill that will send an email to my hypothalamus requesting an extra dose of Sirt1 protein after breakfast?

And if 2,000 calories will keep me hale and hearty into my 80s, why not cut back to 1,800 — or even 1,500 — and see whether my hypothalamus would accompany me into deep old age?

It’s an intriguing thought, but maybe I’ll just take my chances. After all, I like to eat.

, an Experience Life deputy editor, explores the joys and challenges of aging well.

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