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Diet is the most powerful weapon against aging

New research led by the University of Sydney has found that good nutrition may be the best anti-aging drug that we can find. By comparing the metabolic effects of a healthy diet with those provided by medications that promote healthy aging, the scientists discovered that none of the drugs that they studied were more beneficial to the organism than proper nutrition.

In a pre-clinical study involving mice, the researchers found that consuming a proper balance of calories and macronutrients had significantly more benefits on protecting against aging than three common drugs that are prescribed to treat diabetes and slow the aging process (metformin, rapamycin, and resveratrol).

“Diet is a powerful medicine. However, presently drugs are administered without consideration of whether and how they might interact with our diet composition – even when these drugs are designed to act in the same way, and on the same nutrient-signaling pathways as diet,” explained study senior author Stephen Simpson, a professor of Life and Environmental Sciences at the University of Sydney.

The liver plays a fundamental function in regulating metabolism in animals and humans. By examining the impact of both diet and medications on mice in 40 different combinations of proteins, fats, carbohydrates, calories, and drug content, Professor Simpson and his colleagues found that calorie intake and a proper balance between protein, fats, and carbohydrates have more benefits on liver function than pharmaceuticals. 

Furthermore, protein and the total number of calories the mice consumed had a strong impact on the body’s metabolic pathways and on processes that control how cells function. In fact, all three examined pharmaceuticals appeared to dampen cells’ metabolic response to dieting instead of fundamentally re-shaping cellular function.

“We discovered dietary composition had a far more powerful effect than drugs, which largely dampened responses to diet rather than reshaped them.”

“Given humans share essentially the same nutrient-signaling pathways as mice, the research suggests people would get better value from changing their diet to improve metabolic health rather than taking the drugs we studied,” Prof. Simpson concluded.

The study is published in the journal Cell Metabolism.

By Andrei Ionescu, Staff Writer

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