Specifically, the team found that the thymus glands of the mice functioned for much longer. Due to diet, they also had more excellent protection from weight gain and age-related inflammation.
The research team discovered that these positive changes occurred since PLA2G7 triggers a specific mechanism of inflammation called NLRP3 inflammasome. So, reducing the protein in aged mice also lowered inflammation.
Final Thoughts on How Restricting Calories Improves Health
The recent Yale University study highlights the benefits of calorie restrictions and the mechanisms driving these positive changes. Dixit said that the research points to PLA2G7 as one of the critical components of calorie restrictions. By identifying which genes become affected by reducing calories, it helps the team understand how the immune system and metabolism work together.
This data can help scientists uncover potential targets to enhance immune system function, reduce inflammation and perhaps extend human life. For example, manipulating PLA2G7 could result in the same calorie restriction benefits without actually reducing calories. While calorie restriction can lead to a trimmer physique, Dixit said it could also cause adverse health outcomes.
“There’s so much debate about what type of diet is better — low carbohydrates or fat, increased protein, intermittent fasting, etc. — and I think time will tell which of these are important,” said Dixit. “But CALERIE is a very well-controlled study that shows a simple reduction in calories, and no specific diet has a remarkable effect in terms of biology and shifting the immuno-metabolic state in a direction that’s protective of human health. So from a public health standpoint, I think it gives hope.”