A study published in 2006 in the Journal of the American Medical Association shed some light on the subject of diet and longevity.
In the study, 48 overweight people were assigned to four groups. One group ate normally, while the other three were put on calorie-restricted diets that ranged from a 12.5 percent reduction in calories to no more than 890 calories a day.
The study was conducted by the Pennington Biomedical Research Center at Louisiana State University in Baton Rouge.
Over the six-month study, researchers measured important changes, such as hormone levels, body temperature, insulin levels, fat mass and weight loss, among other things. They also examined energy expenditure and DNA damage.
At the end of the study, people in the three calorie-restricted groups had lowered their fat mass and body weight. In addition, they decreased their insulin level at fasting, body temperature, energy expenditure and DNA damage.
Scientists say that the decreased body temperature and insulin levels are particularly important in this study because they are good indicators of increased longevity and are often referred to as the biomarkers of longevity.
There are many scientific theories that try to explain why people age. According to some theories, aging is caused by damaged DNA, the genetic material of humans. As the DNA damage accumulates, disease and aging set in.
DNA can be damaged as a result of expending a large amount of energy, scientists say, and the fact that many participants in this study actually lowered their energy expenditure over the six-month period leads scientists to correlate this with decreased DNA damage and increased longevity.