Christmas is not the right time of year for people to be hearing that eating less will extend their lives but Italian researchers have recently discovered a molecule that people make when they are dieting that might be able to be turned into a useful drug. The molecule mimics restraint and by turning this into a drug it is possible it will influence people’s behaviour so they will be able to restrain themselves better when around lots of food.
When experiments were conducted on rats it was shown that eating less had a positive effect on how long the rats lived. This positive effect from eating less was removed when the rats returned to a normal diet however. One of the best examples of people living longer because they are not eating as much is on a Japanese island. Here, the population have a much higher average age than the rest of the world and the scientists expect this is because of philosophy the people practice which says you should stop eating when you 80% full.
Overeating is known to age the brain faster than normal and this can cause problems such as Alzheimer’s disease. When controlling diet carefully a molecule is produced that can regulate learning and memory and slow the brains ageing. The lead scientist on the study was Giovambattista Pani who commented, “It is our hope that we will be up to activate this molecule artificially through the use of new drugs and this will help to keep the brain young without people having to exercise a very strict diet. It is clear this molecule has a very important effect on our brains.”