For the first time, scientists have been able to prove that chronic calorie restriction expands the lifespan of small primates, Grey mouse lemurs. Earlier studies have been able to demonstrate that intake of balanced diet expands the lifespan of short-lived species such as worms, flies and mice. The lifespan of lemurs which is around twelve years made it an ideal model for the study. Further, lemurs have many physiological similarities with humans. The ill-effects of obesity has been well established. This current study is a testimony to eat less and live more.
Initially, the scientists subjected a group of lemurs to chronic calorie restriction,i.e., they were fed 30% less than the normal diet form the beginning of adulthood. The other group of lemurs included those that fed with normal diet. They observed for physical changes as well as age-related alterations in both the groups under study. The results are astonishing, compared to the normal group lemurs in the group subjected to chronic calorie restriction has an average increase of 50% lifespan. The median survival rate is 9.6 years which is much higher than the control group, which has an average lifespan of 6.4 years. The highest age recorded for lemurs of the control group was 11.3 years. On the other side, about one-third of the lemurs subjected to chronic calorie restriction are still alive. This observation throws light on the beneficial effects of diet on our health.
The calorie-restricted animals had the same morphological characters similar to young lemurs. Further, the incidence of age-related complications such as diabetes and cancer was also less. The motor capacities of these calorie-restricted lemurs have been well preserved, and also there were no changes in the cognitive behaviour. Also, the brain imaging of this adult lemurs revealed that there was a slight loss in the grey matter, while the deterioration of white matter slowed down.
The results of the experiment indicated that calorie restriction not only increases lifespan but also delays the process of ageing. The scientists are now planning to couple calorie restriction with physical exercise and check whether it extends the lifespan further.