How to live longer: Eating at the «right» time of day has been shown to extend longevity

More and more time and resources are devoted to the project of extending life expectancy. It has become the next frontier in Silicon Valley. As fantastic as it sounds, progress is being made in this space.

One of the promising findings of recent times was published in the journal Science.

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In a study that followed hundreds of mice throughout their lives, calorie restriction combined with time-restricted eating increased longevity.

One of the most interesting insights to come out of the study is the impact that eating at a specific time of day can have on life expectancy.

Eating only during their busiest time of day substantially extended the lifespan of mice on a low-calorie diet, reported Howard Hughes Medical Institute investigator Joseph Takahashi and colleagues involved in the study.

In his team’s study of hundreds of mice over four years, a low-calorie diet alone extended the animals’ lives by 10 percent.

But feeding the mice the diet only at night, when the mice are most active, prolonged lifespan by 35 percent.

That combo — a low-calorie diet plus a nightly feeding schedule — added an extra nine months to the animals’ typical two-year average lifespan.

For people, an analogous plan would restrict eating to daylight hours.

The research helps unravel the controversy surrounding diet plans that emphasize eating only at certain times of the day, said Takahashi, a molecular biologist at the University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center.

Takahashi’s team’s findings highlight the crucial role of metabolism in aging, said Sai Krupa Das, a nutrition scientist at the Jean

To tease out the effects of calories, fasting, and daily or circadian rhythms on longevity, Takahashi’s team conducted an extensive four-year experiment.

The team housed hundreds of mice with automatic feeders to control when and how much each mouse ate throughout its life.

Some of the mice could eat as much as they wanted, while others were restricted in calories by 30 to 40 percent.

And those on calorie-restricted diets ate at different times. Mice fed the low-calorie diet at night, for either a two-hour period or a 12-hour period, lived longer, the team found.

The results suggest that time-restricted eating has positive effects on the body, even if it doesn’t promote weight loss.

Takahashi notes that their study also found no difference in body weight between mice with different feeding schedules, «however, we did find profound differences in life expectancy.»

Rafael de Cabo, a gerontology researcher at the National Institute on Aging in Baltimore, said the Science paper «is a very elegant demonstration that even if you’re restricting your calories but not [comiendo en los momentos adecuados]you don’t get all the benefits of calorie restriction.»

Takahashi hopes that learning how calorie restriction affects the body’s internal clocks as we age will help scientists find new ways to extend healthy lifespans in humans.

That could come from calorie-restricted diets or medications that mimic the effects of those diets.

Meanwhile, Takahashi is learning a lesson from his mice: he restricts their feeding to a 12-hour period.

But, he said, «if we find a drug that can speed up your clock, we can test it in the lab and see if it extends lifespan.»