Why Calorie Restriction Works

Here's a short review of the effects of calorie restriction on two important areas in the science of metabolism and aging:

This review focuses on the emerging evidence that attenuation of the production of reactive oxygen species and inhibition of inflammatory pathways play a central role in the antiaging cardiovascular effects of caloric restriction. Particular emphasis is placed on the potential role of the plasma membrane redox system in caloric restriction-induced pathways responsible for sensing oxidative stress and increasing cellular oxidative stress resistance.

We propose that caloric restriction increases bioavailability of NO, decreases vascular reactive oxygen species generation, activates the Nrf2/antioxidant response element pathway, inducing reactive oxygen species detoxification systems, exerts antiinflammatory effects, and, thereby, suppresses initiation/progression of vascular disease that accompany aging.

Chronic inflammation and the generation of reactive oxygen species (or free radicals) are prominent in the present day view of how normal metabolic processes cause the accumulation of biochemical damage that is aging. Look back in the Fight Aging! archives for more:

Calorie restriction reduces the rate at which damage occurs in both of these noted avenues - fewer free radicals, more antioxidant biochemistry to soak up those free radicals, and less inflammation. Given that, it shouldn't be surprising to find that the practice of calorie restriction "makes everything better" when looking at the pace of age-related degeneration. Damage yourself more slowly and your health will last longer.