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A Calorie-Restricting Diet can Slow Down Aging, Study Reports

Update Date: Nov 17, 2014 11:12 AM EST

Although many people diet to lose weight, a new study is reporting that a certain diet can also help slow down aging. According to researchers from the New York University (NYU) Langone Medical Center, a calorie-restricting diet helped slow aging in mice models.

For this study, the team of neuroscientists examined how limiting calories affected the activity levels of about 900 various genes tied to aging and memory formation. They used female mice and restricted calories sourced from carbohydrates. Evidence has repeatedly suggested that females are more likely to suffer from dementia than males.

The team fed some of the mice diets that had 30 percent fewer calories. They examined the mice's tissue samples take from the hippocampal area of the brain, which typically gets affected by Alzheimer's disease the earliest. Samples were collected when the mice reached middle and late adulthood so that the researchers can assess any changes in gene expression over time.

The researchers discovered that this type of calorie-restricting diet prevents the genes' activity levels from rising and falling normally. Instead, the diet ended up curbing some aspects of diseases linked to aging.

"Our study shows how calorie restriction practically arrests gene expression levels involved in the aging phenotype -- how some genes determine the behavior of mice, people, and other mammals as they get old," senior study investigator and NYU Langone neuroscientist, Stephen D. Ginsberg, PhD, stated according to the press release. He added that the research "widens the door to further study into calorie restriction and anti-aging genetics."

Despite the study's findings, Ginsberg cautioned that this type of diet should not be viewed as a "fountain of youth," but rather as evidence that certain healthy diets can boost physical as well as brain health.

The research will be presented at the Society for Neuroscience annual meeting in Washington, D.C.

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