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Longevity: We don’t have to eat less to live longer – Research reveals

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The secret of longevity is not hidden in exhausting diets, point out Australian scientists from Monash University and explain the special role of protein and cholesterol

It is widely known and scientifically supported that calorie restriction leads to longevity. But new research by Australian scientists is to overturn the notion that limiting food is the one way for anyone aiming for longevity.

This study shows that you probably don’t have to eat less to live longer and more quality years, but consuming a diet rich in nutrients ingredients should be properly balanced, say researchers from the School of Biological Sciences at Monash University, Australia.

The findings published in eLife highlight the role of protein and cholesterol that are most likely involved in aging and explain why it is not the low nutrient intake itself that prolongs life expectancy in various experimental animals.

Experiments on fruit flies have shown that when they follow a high-protein diet, their bodies are pushed to bind important nutrients to reproduce at the expense of maintaining their own body. This shortens their lifespan.

According to the findings, cholesterol is the nutrient that is put in the service of the reproduction of the species and is lost by the body that needs it.

Protein, therefore, plays an important role, but only because it alters the availability of cholesterol.

The study partially reveals the mechanisms behind the relationship between protein, reproduction and longevity. Dr Matthew Piper explains that increased protein intake leads to more frequent reproduction and, as it turned out, significant cholesterol is reduced at a faster rate than required to replenish it.

The research team was able to extend the life expectancy of fruit flies by providing them with more cholesterol nutritionally or by administering drugs that suppress the reproductive process.

Of course, fruit flies have other requirements for cholesterol than humans, due to different physiology. Flies receive cholesterol from the diet, while the human body produces it on its own. In addition, the blood vessels in fruit flies do not clog cholesterol plaques like in humans.

Nevertheless, there are essential nutrients such as folic acid and vitamin B12, which the body needs in small amounts for proper functioning, but needs multiply in the case of reproduction. This explains why pregnant women are advised to take folic acid supplements.

As Dr Piper comments on the study, which narrows the gap between understanding the relationship between diet and aging, further research will determine whether the findings can be replicated in other animals that consume a high-protein diet. Currently, the research team is studying the exact way of lowering dietary cholesterol that contributes to a shorter lifespan.

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