London - Forget exercise, fad diets or so-called miracle pills – if you want to live longer simply eat less, a leading scientist has claimed.
Dr Michael Mosley, a presenter on BBC science show Horizon, said ongoing research suggested that a high metabolic rate – how much energy the body uses for normal body functions – is a risk factor for earlier mortality.
And he revealed that communities in Japan and the US which follow strict, low-calorie diets appear to have a lifespan longer than the global average.
The 55-year-old said of calorie restriction diets (which are often as low as 600 calories a day): ‘The bottom line is that it is the only thing that’s ever really been shown to prolong life.
“Ultimately, ageing is a product of a high metabolic rate, which in turn increases the number of free radicals we consume.
“If you stress the body out by restricting calories or fasting, this seems to cause it to adapt and slow the metabolism down. It’s a version of ‘what doesn’t kill you makes you stronger’.”
Dr Mosley said he did not believe it was necessary to eat three meals a day because “what we think of as hunger is mainly habit”.
In a new Horizon programme, he also suggests that intermittent fasting could offer the same benefits as calorie restriction by reducing the growth of hormone IGF-1.
While the hormone maintains and repairs tissue, high levels have been shown to contribute towards cancer and ageing.
His comments, made to the Radio Times, come after the Institute of Health Ageing at University College London suggested eating 40 percent less could extend a person’s life by 20 years.
A researcher said: “If you reduce the diet of a rat by 40 percent it will live for 20 percent longer. So we would be talking 20 years of human life. This has shown on all sorts of organisms, even labradors.” - Daily Mail