Calorie-reduced diets stop the normal rise and fall in activity levels of hundreds of different genes linked to ageing and memory formation in the brain.
Researchers say the results of the experiment on female mice suggests diets with fewer calories derived from carbohydrates likely deter some aspects of ageing and chronic diseases in mammals, including humans.
“Our study shows how calorie restriction practically arrests gene expression levels involved in the ageing phenotype, how some genes determine the behavior of mice, people, and other mammals as they get old,” says NYU Langone Medical Center neuroscientist, Stephen D. Ginsberg.
He cautions that the study does not mean calorie restriction is the fountain of youth but that it does “add evidence for the role of diet in delaying the effects of ageing and age-related disease”.
While restrictive dietary regimens have been well-known for decades to prolong the lives of rodents and other mammals, their effects in humans have not been well understood.
Benefits of these diets have been touted to include reduced risk of human heart disease, hypertension, and stroke but the widespread genetic impact on the memory and learning regions of ageing brains has not before been shown.
Previous studies have only assessed the dietary impact on one or two genes at a time, but his analysis encompassed more than 10,000 genes.
This study reduced calories by 30%.
The results of the study were presented to the Society for Neuroscience annual meeting in Washington.