Scientists have found yet another reason for you to put down that double bacon cheese burger. Studies conducted in mice to understand how the role of stem cells change as individuals age has shown that a low calorie diet may slow the aging process. The study revealed that our Stem Cells maintain the same level of activity as we age but that they shift their efforts from maintaining tissue to dealing with stress and repairing damaged DNA.
Stems cells are just as active in old mice, they just do different things
The first study, published in the journal, cell, focused on understand that changing role of stem cells as mice aged. Stem cells are precursor cells that are able to divide in order to make more tissue. The scientists took stem cell samples from the skin, muscles and liver of mice aged 3 months and older mice aged between 18 and 20 months.
The scientists found that in younger mice the circadian rhythm tasked with regenerating tissue and maintaining the body, in other words keeping them young. In older mice the circadian rhythm primarily concerned with controlling cell mechanisms for coping with stress, including repairing damaged DNA and responding to inflammation.
The first study notes that while the scientists did not find the trigger for the changes they did find that the process change was unique for each tissue type. This means that our tissues all age at different rates, so a number of different factors can affect how parts of our body age. One person might have young skin but an aged liver, for example.
Low Calorie diets may be the trigger
In a second study the researchers focused upon metabolic changes in the liver. They found that a low calorie diet may slow the aging process. The experiment involved tests on two groups of mice. One group had been placed on a calorie restricted diet for six months, the other was fed a normal diet.
The scientists found that the mice fed on a low calorie diet showed little or no change in the function of their circadian rhythm. The circadian rhythm of mice fed on a normal diet began to show signs of changing over the next six months. The implication here is that calorie intake seems to trigger a change in how our stem cells protect our body.
Unfortunately the diet probably won’t be able to help humans
Sadly it is unlikely that this study will be able to transfer back over to humans. So feel free to pick up that double bacon cheese burger again. The calorie intake required would be so low that you would barely be able to meet your minimum calorie requirement. Anybody attempting it would be faced with constant hunger and risk doing long term damage to their body due to malnutrition.
While the study shows that a low calorie diet may slow the aging process the most significant result is certainly the discovery that each part of our body appears to have its own individual age. This opens the avenues for very specific studies to help combat degenerative diseases or to help prevent damage to our hearts or livers.