If you want to age slowly, there’s a way you can do so – just change the way you eat.
Click start to play today’s Spell It, where we learn about the dietary ‘path’ we should be on for a noticeable impact on biological ageing.
According to a report in the US-based multimedia website Big Think, former Yale University professor Morgan Levine shared how the impact of one’s diet on longevity is determined by three factors: how much we eat, what we eat and when we eat.
There have been plenty of studies on caloric restriction and its effect on the body. The idea isn’t to starve yourself – research has found that the optimal amount is about a 20 per cent reduction in one’s overall calorie intake. In several different animal models – from worms to mice – scientists have found that when animals’ calories are restricted, their life span tends to increase. However, newer research has deduced that it may not even be about restricting calories – since most people today tend to overeat, just moving away from this practice has been shown to have a beneficial effect.
Another aspect that’s been at the centre of research is what we should eat to help our bodies age slowly. There seems to be some evidence that a plant-based diet, with fewer animal products and refined sugars, and more fruits, vegetables and whole foods, has benefits for ageing and longevity. A 2017 study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association showed that consuming just three per cent less animal protein and replacing it with plant protein was associated with up to a 19 per cent lower risk of death from any cause.
When we eat is perhaps the newest field of study in longevity science. A February 2020 study published by The New England Journal of Medicine found that eating in a six-hour window and fasting for 18 hours successfully triggered a metabolic switch from glucose-based to ketone-based energy. Participants in the study were found to have increased stress resistance, increased longevity, and a decreased incidence of diseases, including cancer and obesity. Whether it’s a small caloric deficit or intermittent fasting, short-term mild stressors have been seen to create ‘hormesis’ in our bodies, according to the Big Think report – it basically means it makes our bodies more resilient and robust to stress over time.