While a healthy diet does promote longevity, scientists have now found that eating less may also slow down the process of ageing at a cellular level. What’s the reasoning behind this? Well, when we eat less, ribosomes — our protein-producers — can allocate more time towards healing and repairing and inadvertently delay the ageing process as well.
In a new study, researchers looked at 2 groups of mice: the first was given unlimited access to food, while the second was restricted to consume 35% fewer calories. Mice in the latter group lived longer, were less affected by disease, and were more energetic.
“When you restrict calorie consumption, there’s almost a linear increase in lifespan,” Dr. John Price, the principal investigator explains.
While previous research has already shown a correlation between fewer calorie consumption and longevity, Price and his team were the first to correlate this longevity to ribosomal structure.
Ribosomes use about 15% of a cell’s total energy towards protein building. When a ribosome starts to malfunction, our cells find it more useful to repair the ribosome rather than rebuild a new one completely. When less time is spent on breaking down food, cells can spend more energy on repairing malfunctions.
“The ribosome is a very complex machine, sort of like your car, and it periodically needs maintenance to replace the parts that wear out the fastest. When tires wear out, you don’t throw the whole car away and buy new ones. It’s cheaper to replace the tires.”
While these results are only preliminary and are solely based on animal models, future research may change the way we think about food. However, Price warns people from counting calories just yet, and explains that what’s most important is to take care of our bodies with a healthy diet and adequate exercise.