How to live longer: ‘Front-loading’ your meals of the day may extend your lifespan by 35%
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The life-prolonging effects of food are well researched, but a growing area of interest for scientists is how the timing of our meals affects lifespan. New findings suggest concentrating food intake into a specified time frame, and “frontloading” meals, could significantly boost longevity.
The new study, published in the journal Science, suggests eating larger meals at the beginning of the day could lengthen lifespan if less food is consumed later in the day.
Researchers suggest the body may benefit from eating substantial meals at breakfast and lunch, followed by a smaller and earlier dinner.
It also emerged that calorie restriction at night ameliorated age-related changes in gene expression.
In other words, shifting mealtime could counter the inflammatory effects that ageing has on gene expression.
The authors wrote: “Caloric restriction prolongs lifespan, yet the mechanisms by which it does so remain poorly understood.
“We show here that 30 percent calorie restriction was sufficient to extend the lifespan by 10 percent, however, a daily fasting interval and circadian alignment of feeding acted together to extend life span by 35 percent […] .”
The scientists added that these effects were independent of body weight.
The study, which focused on the effects of changing feeding times, was conducted on mice.
Under calorie restriction, the rodents self-imposed chronic cycles of two-hour feeding and 22-hour fasting, raising the question of whether if it is calories, fasting or time of the day that is the cause of this increased life span.
“Our results show that circadian interventions promote longevity and provide a perspective to further explore mechanisms of ageing,” concluded the authors.
The study authors also suggested these effects could be replicated in humans if they ate all their meals within a 12-hour time frame.
The findings chime with previous research showing that reset of the circadian clock can lead to enhanced well-being and lifespan.
This is because clock disruptions, conversely, tend to be associated with ageing and morbidity.
Professor Russell Foster, from Oxford University, explained: “Skipping that large dinner and having a light snack instead could help us live longer.
“You should shift your calorie intake to the first and middle parts of the day.
“You don’t want to concentrate all your calories at the end of the day.”
Fasting for a longer period helps the microbes in the gut get a rest period, as they have their own circadian rhythm.
What’s more, eating a meal at different times of the day can produce different levels of glucose in the blood.
This is because the circadian rhythm drives changes in glucose uptake and metabolism, adding weight to the argument that optimal timing of feeding regimens could lead to better synchrony in metabolism.
This, in turn, may aid in weight loss and bring general improvements to overall health.
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