Experts Weigh In on Evidence for Anti-Aging Diets – WebMD

But other research in organisms with greater genetic diversity – including wild mice, fruit flies and budding yeast – show that “a subset of genetic backgrounds show no response in terms of lifespan and some have their lifespan shortened,” he says.

“While it’s not surprising that genotype and environment would both influence individual response to a particular dietary intervention, we do think it is surprising that an intervention that is often presented in reviews of the scientific literature and in books written for the general public as universally beneficial is actually harmful in about 25% of the genetic backgrounds tested.”

Other Caveats

The researchers also caution people against going too far.

“Although many people tend to assume that dietary interventions are safe, the biological effects of these antiaging diets are profound and generally less specific than pharmacological interventions,” the authors wrote. “Like any drug, dietary interventions have a dose-response profile and at high enough ‘doses’ will lead to substantial adverse effects and ultimately death.”

The loss of libido and sexual dysfunction, psychological problems, chronic fatigue, poor sleep, muscle weakness, susceptibility to infection, impaired wound healing, and social isolation are among the potential side effects of caloric-restriction-like diets, the researchers said.

“In the case of protein restriction, there is also evidence that it may be harmful, at least for all-cause mortality, in older adults,” Kaerberlein says, referring to evidence for people older than 65.

More research into adverse effects, particularly over the long-term, is warranted.

“All of these dietary strategies have multiple side effects – even hunger is a side effect – that, as far as we could find, have not been carefully evaluated in laboratory animals or in people,” Kaerberlein says.

The overall advice for now is “caveat emptor” or “buyer beware” when it comes to these and other diets, Kaerberlein says.

“There’s not yet a lot of evidence in preclinical or clinical studies that any of these diets will significantly move the needle in terms of healthy longevity for people who aren’t overweight and exercise moderately.”

That said, “certainly, if people are overweight, then some of these diets can be helpful in getting down to a healthy weight, especially if combined with exercise,” he says. “And that’s obviously a good thing.”

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