While society continuously debates the effectiveness of various diets, research is accumulating to show the benefits of long-term reduction in calorie intake on health and lifespan, especially in invertebrates. Impacts are more difficult to assess in long-lived primates, but recent work on grey mouse lemurs provides important clues. Illustrating the results of the study, the lemur on the left shows greater signs of age, including whiter fur and cataracts, than his calorie-restricted counterpart (right). On average, lemurs provided throughout adulthood with 30% fewer calories than a regular diet lived 50% longer and suffered less from age-related diseases. Effects on the brain were more complex, as calorie-restricted lemurs showed both reduced loss of white matter and increased loss of grey matter with age, all without affecting their cognitive abilities. From lifespan to brain structure, there’s still more to learn about the consequences of calorific restriction in species closer to our own.
Written by Emmanuelle Briolat
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