A new study has revealed that calorie restriction improves metabolic and immune responses, which may help determine how long a person lives or how many healthy years of life they have remaining.
“Two years of modest calorie restriction reprogrammed the pathways in fat cells that help regulate the way mitochondria generate energy, the body’s anti-inflammatory responses, and potentially longevity,” said Eric Ravussin, Ph.D., Associate Executive Director for Clinical Science at Pennington Biomedical Research Center.
“In other words, calorie restriction rewires many of the metabolic and immune responses that boost lifespan and healthspan.”
The new study used Pennington Biomedical’s CALERIE (Comprehensive Assessment of the Long-Term Effects of Reducing Intake of Energy) data, the longest-running calorie restriction trial in humans. You can find the new study in Science.
The study indicated that cutting calories by 14% led to increases in T cells, which has a crucial role in immune function and slowing down aging.
“As people age, their thymuses shrink and produce fewer T cells. As a result, older people have a harder time fighting off infections and certain cancers,” said Eric Ravussin, Ph.D., Associate Executive Director for Clinical Science at Pennington Biomedical Research Center. “Calorie restriction helps prevent the thymus from shrinking so the person generates more T cells.”
In addition to enhancing immunity, an increase in T cells can burn stores of fatty acids for energy, Dr. Ravussin expressed.
This is important news because fat accumulation in our organs is a serious issue. After all, it has a lot of adverse health consequences, including obesity, insulin resistance, type 2 diabetes, and aging.
The study had another significant discovery – a possible treatment to reduce inflammaging and promote metabolic health (blood pressure, cholesterol, sugar level, waist circumference, triglycerides).
Studies have shown that restricting calories by 40 percent in rodents extended their lives. But there were side effects in growth, reproduction, and immunity.
However, when humans restrict calories, an expression of the gene encoding platelet-activating factor acetylhydrolase (PLA2G7) was decreased.
When the PLA2G7 gene in mice was inactivated, it decreased inflammation and revived thymic function and some metabolic health in aging mice. In other words, reduced expression of PLA2G7 might compensate for the adverse effects of caloric restriction.
“If researchers can find a way to harness PLA2G7, they could create a treatment to extend a person’s health span, the time an individual experiences good health,” declaredPennington Biomedical Executive Director John Kirwan, Ph.D.
Could this be the future of medicine? Time will tell!