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Eating a diet low in nutrients can extend lifespan


MUMBAI: Consuming a diet very low in nutrients can extend lifespan in laboratory animals, says a theory published in BioEssays journal.
It has been known for some time that severely restricted food intake reduces the incidence of diseases of old age such as cancer. "This effect has been demonstrated in laboratories around the world, in species ranging from yeast to flies to mice," said lead author, Dr Margo Adler, an evolutionary biologist at the University of New South Wales, Australia.
The new theory is that this effect evolved to help animals continue to reproduce when food is scarce; they require less food to survive because stored nutrients in the cells can be recycled and reused.
It is this effect that could account for the increased lifespan of laboratory animals on very low-nutrient diets, because increased cellular recycling reduces deterioration and the risk of cancer.
"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," she said.
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