A latest research paper shows a diet low in nutrients might help increase the lifespan of humans.
The research conducted on laboratory animals argues that dietary restrictions can result in higher rates of cellular recycling and repair mechanisms in the body. But, according to them, this effect evolved to help organisms during famines.
The authors explain that animals need less food for survival as the stored nutrients in the cells can be recycled and reused.
“This is the most intriguing aspect, from a human health stand point. Although extended lifespan may simply be a side effect of dietary restriction, a better understanding of these cellular recycling mechanisms that drive the effect may hold the promise of longer, healthier lives for humans,” said lead study author, Dr Margo Adler, an evolutionary biologist at UNSW Australia in a press release.
“This effect has been demonstrated in laboratories around the world, in species ranging from yeast to flies to mice. There is also some evidence that it occurs in primates,” Adler said
“But we think that lifespan extension from dietary restriction is more likely to be a laboratory artifact,” said Adler. She further explained that the most commonly believed theory is that this effect evolved to enhance the survival chances during times of famine.
The authors explained why no extension in lifespan is seen in the wild. This is because restricted diets lower the ability of the immune system to fight diseases and reduce the muscle strength necessary to defend against predators.
“Unlike in the benign conditions of the lab, most animals in the wild are killed young by parasites or predators,” Adler explained
“Since dietary restriction appears to extend lifespan in the lab by reducing old-age diseases, it is unlikely to have the same effect on wild animals, which generally don’t live long enough to be affected by cancer and other late-life pathologies,” she added.
The paper is published in the journal ‘BioEssays.’