Of all the potential anti-aging approaches, none have so far shown the promise of caloric restriction.
Researchers initially speculated that animals who consumed fewer calories would also expend less energy. However, careful measurements of the energy expenditures of animals on CRON (calorie restriction with optimal nutrition) indicate that they use as much or more energy than their free-feeding counterparts (Duffy PH et al 1991; Masoro EJ et al 1982; Masoro EJ et al 1992; McCarter RJ et al 1992).
In spite of the comparable energy expenditure, however, CRON reduces the cellular damage that is typically associated with higher energy expenditure, including accumulation of ROS products, lipid peroxidation, oxidized proteins, and other measures of cellular aging (Cook CI et al 1998; Dubey A et al 1996; Matsuo M et al 1993).
When CRON is begun in young animals, they remain smaller and leaner than their free-feeding counterparts (Weindruch R et al 1988). They also withstand a number of stressors better than their free-feeding counterparts (Berg TF et al 1994; Heydari AR et al 1993; Masoro EJ 1998).
Young rodents consuming 40 percent fewer calories than their free-feeding counterparts will generally experience about a 50 percent increase in their life spans. Regardless of when CRON is started, its benefits appear to be proportional to both the degree and duration of caloric restriction (Merry BJ 2002). Thus, health benefits might be expected even when CRON is started late in life (Rae M 2004). Since the longevity response to CRON appears to be conserved across the animal kingdom, primates and humans will likely benefit from CRON as well.
Increased life span in yeast can be induced by adding resveratrol, an antioxidant found in red wine, to their growth medium. These results have been replicated in both worms (Caenorhabditis elegans) and pomace flies (Drosophila melanogaster) (Wood JG et al 2004), suggesting that the action of resveratrol may be equivalent to that of caloric restriction. Whether resveratrol will prove to be a caloric restriction agent in mammals, primates, and humans remains to be seen.
Recent studies at the BioMarker Pharmaceuticals laboratory have shown that a nutrient formula from the Life Extension Foundation that contains extracts of grape seed and skin, a whole red grape resveratrol extract, vitamin C, and calcium (from calcium ascorbate) can produce many of the gene expression effects found in mice on CRON. Studies funded by the Life Extension Foundation at the Chinese Academy of Sciences in Beijing have shown that this formula can improve the strength and coordination of pomace flies (D melanogaster) afflicted with a motor disorder that is similar to Parkinson’s disease in humans. This formula can protect mitochondria (the energy-generating power plants in the cell) isolated from rat livers from damage caused by exposure to carcinogens.
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