An ongoing study at the University of Wisconsin-Madison in which monkeys are being fed an extremely calorie-restricted diet gives preliminary evidence that it slows down aging and age-related diseases!
For decades, scientists have known that a diet of about 30-percent fewer calories than normal extends the lifespan of mice by 10 to 20 percent, reduces their incidence of cancer, and prevents the deterioration of learning and memory in the rodents.
Now scientist are trying to see if such life extensions can be proven in primates and by default, humans!
Researchers at the Wisconsin National Primate Research Center have been studying a group of 76 rhesus monkeys, half of them on calorie restriction and half on a normal diet, for 18 years, to determine whether or not the restricted diet has the same health benefits in primates as it does in other animals.
The study will likely go on for at least another decade, since the monkeys are only now entering old age.
Captive rhesus monkeys usually live to around 25 years old, which is now about the average age of the monkeys in the study. An age of 40 for a rhesus monkey is similar to 120 for a human--the apparent maximum lifespan.
Do Dieting Monkeys (and people) Live Healthier and Longer Lives? Preliminary evidence from one of the largest studies of calorie-restricted diet in primates shows major health benefits. By Katherine Bourzac:Calorie Resticted Diet?
Although there is now strong evidence that caloric restriction prevents diabetes in the primates, it's still too early to assess the diet's effects on their lifespan, according to Richard Weindruch, professor of medicine at the University of Wisconsin, who is heading up the study.
But preliminary evidence suggests that the diet is preventing loss of muscle mass, arthritis, menstrual irregularities, and other signs of aging. "Over the next 10 years, survival differences will come out," predicts Ricki Colman, a scientist on the study.
Even if a diet of 30-percent fewer calories proved to extend healthy human lifespan, however, it's unlikely that most people could be able to stick with it.
To make sure the study is as applicable to humans as possible, the Wisconsin scientists provide the monkeys with human-like health care: diabetic monkeys are given insulin; the animals get dental care; and female monkeys suffering endometriosis--a painful condition of the uterine lining common to humans--may undergo surgery.
Whatever the mechanisms turn out to be, "there's something that happens with that extra reduction of food intake that really affects the aging process," says Joseph Kemnitz, director of the Wisconsin primate research center.
Ultimately, the researchers hope to take what they learn about this process to help people maintain a high quality of life throughout old age!
Copyright Technology Review 2006.
On the plus side, the healthy looking Rhesus monkey on the left is 25 years old and on a "calorie restricted" diet.
On the negative side, the one on the right is 26 and eats the normal North American diet of french fries, steak, junk food etc.
However, many people find this "calorie restricted" diet to be a trying alternative to just eating smarter and if you are starving and miserable, maybe your not
really living longer............ it just seems that way!!
Your "wanna be svelte" scribe;
Allan W Janssen
Labels: aging, curse, getting older, monkeys calorie restricted diets