Cutting calories might help you live longer, but not without increased physical activity

July 3, 2012

Dietary restriction can slow age-related diseases and extend the lifespan of all species tested to date. Understanding this phenomenon might help people live longer, preferably without having to drastically limit calories. Now, investigators reporting in the July 3 issue of the Cell Press journal Cell Metabolism have found that in flies, dietary restriction causes enhanced fat metabolism in the muscle and increased physical activity, both of which are critical for extending lifespan. The findings suggest that dietary restriction may cause changes in muscle that can lead to a more active and longer life.

In fruit flies, restriction of yeast, the major source of protein in the fly diet, robustly prolongs life. To see what specific effects has on the body, investigators cut yeast from flies' diets and then conducted various biochemical tests. They found that following dietary restriction, the flies became more physically active, and this increased physical activity was required for extending the flies' . Flies on a restricted diet that could not move did not live longer.

The researchers also found that this increased physical activity was due to a shift in the flies' metabolism so that they increased both fat synthesis and breakdown. Blocking specifically in the negated the lifespan-extending effects of dietary restriction.

These results suggest that simply restricting nutrients without increasing physical activity may not be beneficial in humans. "Ours is the first study to suggest that for dietary restriction to enhance lifespan, you need increased fat turnover in the muscle and an associated increase in physical activity. Furthermore, it also suggests that may enhance motivation to exercise and help derive maximal benefits of exercise," says senior author Dr. Pankaj Kapahi, from the Buck Institute for Research on Aging.

The researchers also found that overexpression of the hormone AKH, the fly equivalent of glucagon, enhanced flies' fat metabolism, boosted their activity, and extended their lifespan even though their diet was unrestricted.

"Our data suggest that dietary restriction may induce changes in muscle similar to those observed under endurance exercise and that molecules like AKH that enhance fat breakdown could serve as potential dietary restriction mimetics," the authors wrote. This indicates that medical interventions that enhance fat metabolism in muscle might have the potential to prolong life.

Explore further: Mouse study turns fat-loss/longevity link on its head

More information: Katewa et al.: “Intra-myocellular fatty acid metabolism plays a critical role in mediating responses to dietary restriction in Drosophila melanogaster.” Cell Metabolism - July 3, 2012 print issue print issue, DOI:10.1016/j.cmet.2012.06.005

Related Stories

Mouse study turns fat-loss/longevity link on its head

May 3, 2011

Since the 1930s scientists have proposed food restriction as a way to extend life in mice. Though feeding a reduced-calorie diet has indeed lengthened the life spans of mice, rats and many other species, new studies with ...

Recommended for you

Functional human liver cells grown in the lab

November 26, 2015

In new research appearing in the prestigious journal Nature Biotechnology, an international research team led by The Hebrew University of Jerusalem describes a new technique for growing human hepatocytes in the laboratory. ...

1 comment

Adjust slider to filter visible comments by rank

Display comments: newest first

not rated yet Jul 03, 2012
This is ESPECIALLY significant for men: Men will not have the female-hormone-enhanced-immune-system assist that gives women induced longevity, period...BUT, I say BUT, the secret for men is:
1) Inflammation control - nonsteroidal, anti-inflammatory substances like Advil or plain, low doses of aspirin.
2) Herbal maintenance: Black, green teas, Phytochemicals - in fruits, vegetables and supplementation, Grapeseed extract, Resveratrol, cranberry juice FOREVER, vitamin c supplements like they are candy, Vitamin D especially if you are a man of color, and a solid French/Mediterranean diet, etc, etc, etc...
3) Testosterone-replacement/supplementation for men over 42 years of age...that means, those supplemental aids that they sell at places like Vitamin World. You know, the stuff that is legal but could raise an eyebrow if you take a urine test. Keep the JUICE, flowing.
4) That supplement called PURE FACTORS: Made fro/of Deer Velvet Antler and Tribulus - for anabolic & growth factors.


Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.