Extreme Calorie Restriction: Does it Slow Down Aging?

Posted by: on Oct 25, 2011 | No Comments

Nobel laureate Elizabeth Blackburn, PhD, professor of biochemistry and biophysics joins a team of researchers at UCSF to measure the health benefits of drastic calorie restriction. One of the aims of the CRONA (Caloric Restriction with Optimal Nutrition and Aging Study) is to see whether extremely low calorie intake slows down aging, and therefore reduces the risk of developing age related illnesses.

This milestone study on health and aging is a first of its kind, drawing on the leadership of pioneers in the science of longevity, including Cynthia Kenyon, currently working in the department of Biochemistry and Biophysics at UCSF. It explores two main questions: What are the psychological characteristics of people who are considered extreme dieters? And does Calorie Restriction slow down the aging process?

Trent Arsenault, 35, an engineer from the Bay Area and study participant, explains, “The goal [of extreme calorie restriction] is to extend your healthy years as long as possible.” Arsenault started a calorie restriction regiment a decade ago, losing 60 pounds over the course of ten years and capping his diet at 1800 calories a day.

In addition to probing the psychological profiles of participants, the study examines the biological processes affected by extreme calorie restriction, including its affect on telomeres.

Reporting on CRONA, Elizabeth Fernandez, Senior Public Information Representative at UCSF, writes, “By studying pathways including expression of certain genes that predict longevity, telomere shortening and other markers of aged immune cells, researchers will be able to determine how the most important aspects of cellular aging might differ in calorie restrictors compared to normal eaters as well as over-eaters.”