Can your diet slow down the aging process? A recent study published in Ageing Research Reviews delved into the effects of different dietary patterns, including the Mediterranean, Ketogenic, and Intermittent Fasting diets, on cellular health.
The study aims to shed light on how these diets can influence our bodies at a cellular level and potentially impact our overall health and well-being. Researchers hope that this study’s findings will help individuals make more informed choices when it comes to selecting a diet that best fits their health goals.
Age is a crucial factor that plays a significant role in the development of chronic diseases. However, it’s worth noting that aging is not an inevitable process that occurs at a specific age and can be altered.
The effects of aging are evident at multiple levels, including systemic, cellular, and molecular. The hallmarks of aging include several factors such as genomic instability, telomere attrition, epigenetic modification, reduced proteostasis, loss of nutrient sensing regulation, mitochondrial dysfunction, cellular senescence, stem cell exhaustion, and changes in intercellular communication. In addition, recent research has identified three new hallmarks of aging that include impaired macroautophagy, chronic inflammation, and dysbiosis.
It is essential to understand the significance of these aging hallmarks in the development of chronic diseases. By targeting these hallmarks, we may be able to slow down or even prevent the onset of age-related chronic diseases, and ultimately improve overall health and wellbeing.
Numerous studies have investigated the impact of dietary restriction (DR) and various dietary patterns on enhancing multiple health outcomes linked to aging, including alterations in body fat, insulin sensitivity, blood sugar levels, blood pressure, and inflammation.
Recent research has raised the question of whether or not caloric restriction can also have a significant impact on slowing down the aging process in cells. Earlier studies have demonstrated that this dietary intervention can prevent natural, age-promoting changes in the genome, preserve the integrity of proteins, maintain the regulation of nutrient-sensing pathways essential for energy balance, and decelerate cellular aging processes.
Typically, calorie restriction (CR) conditions in rodents, which involve consuming only 30% to 55% of normal caloric intake, have been observed to result in decreased nuclear damage and increased DNA repair rates under dietary restriction. This is believed to occur through various mechanisms, such as the reduction in the production of oxidants like hydrogen peroxide in mitochondria or the leakage of free radicals in mitochondrial DNA (mtDNA).
It is noteworthy that even when implemented later in life, calorie restriction remains effective in stimulating the repair of oxidative damage, maintaining genome functionality, and increasing debris elimination through autophagy. It is encouraging to note that this has been observed in rodents. However, studies have yet to uncover similar effects in non-rodent species.
Despite CR being mostly below a fifth of normal, CR did decrease DNA damage in humans in only six months, but fasting between sunrise and sunset for two days a week (known to Muslims as the Sunnah fast) achieved equivalent outcomes after six weeks, lasting for up to 36 months.
Preclinical, but not human, research suggest that 30% CR may lessen and correct epigenetic alterations that contribute to aging. Nonetheless, much more thorough research is needed in this area. Preclinical research has shown that DR is necessary for proteostasis because it ensures the efficient removal of harmful proteins.
Even while consuming a high-fat diet, a 40% CR and intermittent fasting are linked to better protein homeostasis. This has the potential to delay the onset of age-related changes, such as neurodegeneration.
Moreover, the MD model enhanced genomic health, as seen by improvements in a variety of DNA oxidation indicators found in human subjects. Also, it prevented the shortening of telomeres, which is a symptom of age-related disease in many different situations. In addition, reducing dietary fat, meat, and sugar by 30% may be helpful in achieving this result.
With MD-like diets, epigenetic changes that were good for health were seen, but not with corn oil. In order to eliminate harmful proteins from visceral white fat in obese adult women, MD might potentially trigger autophagy. This could be because of the polyphenols in the olive oil and wine that are part of this diet.
Potential therapies to boost autophagy and preserve proteostasis include protein restriction and a plant-based KD. In preclinical research, fasting, CR, and the MD seem to promote improved responses to food sensing and lengthen longevity; however, more human studies are required to show the therapeutic value of this response.
As the telomere shortens with each cell division, the cell enters a growth arrest phase known as replicative senescence, which occurs on a circadian basis. Senescence, nevertheless, also happens after cell injury via a variety of processes, whether caused by oxidative damage, Genetic damage, or outside stimuli.
Over time, an accumulation of senescent cells may cause functional tissue to deteriorate, hastening the aging process and increasing the risk of developing a degenerative illness. Slowed aging in those over 60 lowers the 30% CR for a decade on average. This might be shown in decreased senescence-related indicators when the MD is followed.
Following a Mediterranean diet (MD) is linked to decreased inflammation, which is a persistent low-level inflammatory state that causes cell communication changes, tissue aging, dysfunction, and degeneration. It’s worth noting that this connection is not as evident with DR (dietary restriction).
Despite the fact that CR is the nutritional intervention that is most often employed in dietary studies, it is not widely applicable to humans since it is not appetizing to most people and because it may result in psychological stress if followed for an extended period of time. Research is still being done on how to limit some amino acids selectively.
Most studies show that eating plant-based foods and following the MD can help slow down the changes that come with getting older, but the KD seems to have more specific effects, based on what we know so far.
Tissue aging has a lot to do with stem cells running out, which makes it hard for new cells to grow. Sadly, there is little information on the effects of CR or MD/KD on stem cell fatigue, and this area of research seems to have a lot of room for improvement.
“Dietary restriction and certain dietary patterns, such as the Mediterranean dietary pattern,” according to the study, “are nutritional strategies that can impact aging rates and the development of age-related clinical conditions.”
But this can’t be used with certainty or accuracy until there is more evidence from human studies that use standardized methods on a larger number of people.
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