The research is being presented at the conference of the British Society for Research on Ageing (BSRA) in Newcastle. It was conducted by scientists at the BBSRC Centre for Integrated Systems Biology of Ageing and Nutrition (CISBAN) at Newcastle University.
Working with the theory that cell senescence – the point at which a cell can no longer replicate – is a major cause of ageing the researchers set out to investigate what effect a restricted diet had on this process. By looking at mice fed a restricted diet the team found that they had a reduced accumulation of senescent cells in their livers and intestines. Both organs are known to accumulate large numbers of these cells as animals age.
Alongside this the CISBAN scientists also found that the telomeres of the chromosomes of the mice on restricted diets were better maintained despite their ageing. Telomeres are the protective 'ends' of chromosomes that prevent errors, and therefore diseases, occurring as DNA replicates throughout an organisms lifetime but they are known to become 'eroded' over time.
The adult mice were fed a restricted diet for a short period of time demonstrating that it may not be necessary to follow a very low calorie diet for a lifetime to gain the benefits the scientists found.
Chunfang Wang, the lead researcher on this project at CISBAN, said: “Many people will have heard of the theory that eating a very low calorie diet can help to extend lifespan and there is a lot of evidence that this is true. However, we need a better understanding of what is actually happening in an organism on a restricted diet. Our research, which looked at parts of the body that easily show biological signs of ageing, suggests that a restricted diet can help to reduce the amount of cell senescence occurring and can reduce damage to protective telomeres. In turn this prevents the accumulation of damaging tissue oxidation which would normally lead to age-related disease.”
Professor Thomas von Zglinicki, who oversaw the research, said: “It's particularly exciting that our experiments found this effect on age-related senescent cells and loss of telomeres, even when food restriction was applied to animals in later life. We don't yet know if food restriction delays ageing in humans, and maybe we wouldn't want it. But at least we now know that interventions can work if started later. This proof of principle encourages us at CISBAN in our search for interventions that might in the foreseeable future be used to combat frailty in old patients.”
CISBAN is one of the six BBSRC Centres for Integrative Systems Biology. The centres represent a more than £40M investment by the Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council (BBSRC) to support the development of systems biology in the UK. The centres are also supported by the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council.
Systems biology uses the study of a whole, interconnected system – a cell, an organism or even an ecosystem – with computer modelling to better make the outputs of biology more useful to scientists, policymakers and industry.
Prof Douglas Kell, BBSRC Chief Executive and keynote speaker at the BSRA Conference, said: “As lifespan continues to extend in the developed world we face the challenge of increasing our 'healthspan', that is the years of our lives when we can expect to be healthy and free from serious or chronic illness. By using a systems biology approach to investigate the fundamental mechanisms that underpin the ageing process the CISBAN scientists are helping to find ways to keep more people living healthy, independent lives for longer.”
The Partnership for Healthy Weight Management (including the American Dietetic Association) have released an easy-to-use booklet that provides information and checklists for evaluating weight loss programs and helps consumers to choose a safe and effective weight loss method.
To download this publication in PDF format, see below
Food-specific diets rely on the myth that some foods have special properties that can cause weight loss or gain. But no food can. These diets don't teach healthful eating habits; therefore, you won't stick with them. Sooner or later, you'll have a taste for something else – anything that is not among the foods you've been “allowed” on the diet.
The popular high-protein, low-carbohydrate diets are based on the idea that carbohydrates are bad,
that many people are “allergic” to them or are insulin-resistant, and therefore gain weight when they eat them. The truth is that people are eating more total calories and getting less physical activity, and that is the real reason they are gaining weight. These high-protein, low-carbohydrate diets tend to be low in calcium and fiber, as well as healthy phytochemicals (plant chemicals).
Some authors of these fad diets advise taking vitamin-mineral supplements to replace lost nutrients. However, supplements should “bridge the gap” in healthy eating and not be used as a replacement for nutrient-rich foods. Also, the authors of high-protein, low-carbohydrate diets advocate taking advantage of ketosis to accelerate weight loss. Ketosis is an abnormal body process that occurs during starvation due to lack of carbohydrate. Ketosis can cause fatigue, constipation, nausea, and vomiting. Potential long-term side effects of ketosis include heart disease, bone loss, and kidney damage.
Successful weight loss (losing weight and keeping it off for at least five years) is accomplished by making positive changes to both eating habits and physical activity patterns.
How can you spot a fad diet?
Weight-loss advice comes in literally hundreds of disguises. Most often the “new” and “revolutionary” diets are really old fad diets making an encore appearance. Examples of fad diets include those that:
- tout or ban a specific food or food group
- suggest that food can change body chemistry
- blame specific hormones for weight problems
Ten Red Flags That Signal Bad Nutrition Advice:
- Recommendations that promise a quick fix
- Dire warnings of dangers from a single product or regimen
- Claims that sound too good to be true
- Simplistic conclusions drawn from a complex study
- Recommendations based on a single study
- Dramatic statements that are refuted by reputable scientific organizations
- Lists of “good” and “bad” foods
- Recommendations made to help sell a product
- Recommendations based on studies published without peer review
- Recommendations from studies that ignore differences among individuals or groups
Source: American Dietetic Association
Diets that encourage and promise rapid weight loss often lead to weight being regained just as quickly. Australian women spend over $400 million per year in a fruitless quest to be slim, with 95% of people who go on weight loss diets regaining everything they have lost plus more within two years.
Not only are many popular diets ineffective, but they are also a health risk. Research into popular diet books has found that only one in four diets reviewed met current nutrition guidelines with many eliminating important, nutritious foods.
The Dietitians Association recommends weight loss diets that:
- Meet individual nutritional and health needs
- Fit with individual lifestylesInclude a wide variety of foods from all food groups
- Promote physical activity
- Focus on realistic life-long changes to eating and exercise habits.
The Dietitians Association does not recommend weight loss diets that:
- Cut out entire food groups or specific nutritious foods
- Promote and promise rapid weight loss without the supervision of a dietitian and doctor
- Focus on short-term changes to eating and exercise habits
- Recommend unusual foods or eating patterns
- Encourage miracle pills and potions.
There is no one magic or ‘ideal’ weight loss diet. It is possible to lose weight while meeting individual nutrition and lifestyle needs through a variety of approaches.
To lose weight and keep it off see an Accredited Practising Dietitian (APD) like Nastaran. Nastaran can help you get off the dieting merry go round by developing a lifestyle plan that’s right for you and can be followed for life.