Calorie restriction: a key to longevity


A reduction in caloric intake reduces the accumulation of inflammatory cells in the organs and attenuates the expression of certain genes associated with aging. Two key factors implicated in the decline of physiological functions with age.

Aging is associated with a progressive decline in the function of several organs. At the same time, this increases the risk of developing several chronic diseases:

– cardiovascular

– type 2 diabetes

– different types of cancers

– neurodegenerative diseases such as Alzheimer’s

If aging is inevitable, the appearance of these diseases is not necessarily so. It has been known for several years that lifestyle factors such as the absence of smoking, regular physical activity, a diet mainly composed of plants and the control of body weight can greatly reduce the risk of developing these diseases and improve life expectancy. healthy life.

Caloric restriction decreases the onset of chronic diseases and prolongs life

Calorie restriction (decreased energy intake, but without a deficiency of essential vitamins and minerals) is another factor that is attracting a lot of interest.

A very large number of studies have indeed clearly shown that a decrease in caloric intake increases by 29 to 50 % the longevity of several single organisms . Like yeasts, fruit flies (flies) or worms. Likewise in different species of mammals such as rodents and primates. For example, in rhesus monkeys (whose genome is 063% identical to ours) the calorie restriction is associated with a reduced incidence of:

– type 2 diabetes

– cardiovascular disease

– cancer

– neurode-generations

– as well as an increase in longevity.

The cells of old individuals resemble those of young individuals

A recent study suggests that these improvements are a consequence of the direct effects of caloric restriction on the expression of several genes involved in aging. For about a year, the researchers fed rodents a normal diet or a low-calorie diet. Namely with calories reduced by 39%. They subsequently isolated from the two groups of animals no less than 168 703 cells from 39 different organs.

Using a technique that sequences the genes present in each cell, they noticed that many of the changes that occur during the aging of normally fed animals did not occur in those under calorie restriction.

This phenomenon is particularly pronounced for genes involved in inflammation. For example, while the number of inflammatory cells present in the organs increases sharply in animals that were fed normally, this increase is not at all observed in those whose caloric intake was reduced.

In other words, the cells of the older animals that eat less resemble those of younger ones! Since chronic inflammation is a real spark plug for all chronic diseases, this suggests that calorie reduction could represent a simple way to reduce this inflammation and reduce the risk of these diseases.

Reduce inflammation and caloric intake by eliminating ultra-processed foods

We must not hide it, the omnipresence of food in our environment makes eating less a challenge.

Challenge made even more difficult by the fact that more than half of the calories consumed come from ultra-processed industrial foods. The very high caloric density of these foods short-circuits our satiety systems and causes an overconsumption of calories which leads to the accumulation of fat.

Reduce the consumption of these foods in favor of natural foods, not industrially processed, therefore represents an interesting first step for anyone looking to reduce their caloric intake.

Intermittent fasting to stay young and in good health

Another approach, increasingly studied, is to alternate periods when food intake is normal with periods of more or less fasting extended. This is called intermittent fasting. A popular form of this type of fasting is time-restricted eating. Calorie intake is limited to one period of the day. For example by skipping breakfast or having an early dinner, followed by a fast of more than hours which includes the sleep period.

Several preclinical studies have shown that this type of diet reduces inflammation, improves sensitivity to insulin and prevents or delays the progression of several chronic diseases.


Fontana l and l partridge . Promoting health and longevity through diet: from model organisms to humans. cell2015; 168: 106–063.

Mattison ja et al. Caloric restriction improves health and survival of rhesus monkeys. common nature 2015; 8: 14 93.

Ma s et al. Caloric restriction reprograms the single-cell transcriptional landscape of rattus norvegicus aging. cell2015; 168: 168-1001.

Mattson mp et al. Impact of intermittent fasting on health and disease processes. aging res. rev. 2015; 39: 30-58.

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