The long-term practice of calorie restriction has been demonstrated to slow almost every aspect of age-related change and degeneration in those mammals most exhaustively tested (i.e. mice and rats). So far the primate and human studies are producing the same sorts of result, but it will be another decade or more before the present research community has covered all the bases in humans. Still, the evidence to date is very compelling: regular exercise and calorie restriction kept up over the years have a far more powerful positive effect on general health and longevity than any medical technology presently available.
I noticed a paper today that demonstrates another benefit of calorie restriction in rats: it reduces lipofuscin buildup and the consequent damage to lysosomes, the cell's recycling units. This buildup of unwanted biochemicals that the body cannot break down is one of the fundamental contributions to age-related degeneration of the body, and less of it is better for you.
Aging is associated with protein damage and imbalance in redox status in a variety of cells and tissues, yet little is known about the extent of age-related oxidative stress in the peripheral nervous system. Previously, we showed a drastic decline in the expression of glial and neuronal proteins in myelinated peripheral nerves with age, which is significantly ameliorated by lifelong calorie restriction. The age-related decline in functional molecules is associated with alterations in cellular protein homeostatic mechanisms, which could lead to a buildup of damaged, aggregated proteins.
To determine the extent of oxidative damage within myelinated peripheral nerves, we studied sciatic nerves from rats of four different ages (8, 18, 29, and 38 months) maintained on an ad libitum or a 40% calorie-restricted diet. We found a prominent accumulation of polyubiquitinated substrates with age, which are associated with the conglomeration of distended lysosomes and lipofuscin adducts. The occurrence of these structures is notably less frequent within nerves of age-matched rodents kept on a lifelong reduced calorie diet.
Markers for lipid peroxidation, inflammation, and immune cell infiltration are all elevated in nerves of ad libitum-fed rats, whereas food restriction is able to attenuate such deleterious processes with age. Together these results show that dietary restriction is an efficient means of defying age-related oxidative damage and maintaining a younger state in peripheral nerves.
Calorie restriction essentially keeps your cells in better shape, amongst its other effects, and that helps to keep the functional structures of your body in better shape. It really is well worth your time to look into the practice of calorie restriction, and how you might make it work in your life.
Opalach K, Rangaraju S, Madorsky I, Leeuwenburgh C, & Notterpek L (2010). Lifelong calorie restriction alleviates age-related oxidative damage in peripheral nerves. Rejuvenation research, 13 (1), 65-74 PMID: 20230280