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Restricted-Calorie Diet (In Of Itself) May Not Lead to Longevity

August 30, 2012

Note: More evidence (as others have suggested) that it’s not the calorie restriction itself that has provided benefits in prior studies, merely the reduction in the gross amount of carbohydrates that occur in such a diet. – HT

Two independent teams — one at the U.S. National Institute on Aging in Bethesda, Md., and the other at the Wisconsin National Primate Research Center in Madison, Wis.,  each placed rhesus monkeys on diets that contained 30 percent fewer calories than normal and have periodically provided updates on the health and longevity of the animals.

As the latest Nature dispatch found, the NIA monkeys fed a calorie-restricted diet didn’t live any longer than monkeys on a higher-calorie diet.  No matter what they ate, maximum lifespan seems to hover around 40 years of age. Half the monkeys that began the study as youngsters were still alive, but the researchers say, based on survival patterns, they predict the remaining calorie-restrictors and controls will all live to be about the same age….

Conflicting Results

These latest findings are at odds with the WNPRC study in which calorie-restricted monkeys have far outlived the controls. Floyd Chilton, a professor of physiology and pharmacology at Wake Forest University Medical Center, said the study design might account for some of the disparities.

For one thing, the Wisconsin monkeys subsisted on a diet that shared many of the same unhealthy aspects of a typical Western diet, such as a high amount of sugar, whereas the NIA primates were fed a much healthier diet and were also given vitamin supplements.

“The NIA monkeys were already eating so healthy to begin with, the calorie reduction may not have provided much more of a health advantage,” Chilton said.

Mattison said this could be a limitation. “Certainly quality of the food and the nutrient composition/ratios could factor into the equation. Because calorie restriction is causing a metabolic stress, it is reasonable to speculate that a nutritionally complete and balanced diet would be better for the organism, regardless of the quantity,” she said.

More at ABC News

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