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Can Feeling Hungry Slow Down Aging? Here’s What Science Says

May 23, 2023

It is natural to feel hungry—our bodies need nutrients and energy to function well throughout our days. But if you have moments of feeling a little bit hungry, that could actually help in slowing down the aging process, according to a fascinating new study.

The recent study, published in Science and conducted by the University of Michigan, found that the feeling of hunger itself—rather than the act of calorie restriction—may be responsible for slowing down the aging process. The study, which was conducted on fruit flies, found that the flies that were made to feel hungry by being placed on a calorie-restricted diet lived significantly longer than those that were fed a normal diet.

To determine this, the researchers altered the amount of branched-chain amino acids (BCAA) in a test snack food for certain groups of flies, then evaluated how those flies interacted with a buffet of yeast and sugar food. The low-BCAA group consumed more yeast than sugar compared to the high-BCAA group, meaning those fed a low-BCAA group fed on a need-based hunger, and this group lived significantly longer.

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While the study was conducted on fruit flies and should be approached with caution, the researchers believe that the findings may have implications for human health as well. In fact, there is already some evidence to suggest that calorie restriction, which involves the feeling of hunger, may have anti-aging effects.

According to a 2022 study conducted by researchers at Yale University, calorie restriction may have anti-aging effects by reducing the production of a protein called SPARC, which then helps to reduce harmful inflammation in the body and improves health for those who have aged. Researchers even state that a reduction of calories can help with controlling inflammation and immune responses, and because this protein has been linked to obesity and diabetes, a reduction of it can decrease the risk of these diseases as well.

Of course, feeling hungry all the time is not a sustainable or healthy way to live. It is important to maintain a balanced and nutritious diet and to listen to your body’s hunger signals. However, these studies suggest that feeling hungry every now and then, whether through calorie restriction or intermittent fasting, may have some health benefits, including potentially slowing down the aging process.

It is worth noting that more research is needed to fully understand the mechanisms behind these findings and to determine whether they apply to humans as well as fruit flies. Nevertheless, the results of these studies are certainly intriguing, and they add to a growing body of evidence suggesting that our diets and eating habits can have a significant impact on our health and longevity.

Read next: Artificial Sweeteners May Not Help Weight Loss, Says New Report

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