Diet – Health Care
Tag

Diet

Browsing

New research from the University of Sheffield has discovered that switching to a rich diet after eating a restricted diet can decrease life expectancy and have negative effects on health.

It has long been known that restricting food intake can extend lifespan however researchers have now provided new insight into why, as well as how diets could benefit humans in terms of slowing aging and the onset of age-related disease.

Experts, from the Healthy Lifespan Institute at the University of Sheffield and Brown University in the USA, tested the existing evolutionary theory that dietary restriction – a reduction of particular or total nutrient intake without causing malnutrition – triggers a survival strategy in humans and animals. The theory suggests that this is because humans and animals invest in maintaining and repairing the body in times of low food availability, to await times when food availability increases again.

However, the new findings have challenged this theory. Fruit flies (Drosophilia melanogaster) fed a restricted diet who were then returned to a rich diet were more likely to die and laid less eggs compared to flies that spent their whole life on a rich diet. This demonstrates that rather than waiting for food availability to increase in the future, the flies were essentially waiting to die on a restricted diet.

The researchers suggest that instead of dietary restriction increasing repair and maintenance mechanisms, it could actually be an escape from the damaging effects of a rich diet. This new interpretation can help us to understand why and how diet can have such profound effects on health.

The findings also suggest that changing diet repeatedly or abruptly could be harmful to health in certain situations.

Ph.D. student Andrew McCracken, from the University of Sheffield's Department of Animal and Plant Sciences, who led the study said: "Dietary restriction is an unusual paradox which has attracted a great deal of interest within the field of aging. Our results have now pointed us towards a more refined explanation of why it occurs, and have the potential to wholly shift the focus of future research.

"Our most surprising finding was that under certain circumstances, restricted diets can also be the origin of particular types of damage to the individual. This enhanced understanding of the penalties and benefits of certain types of diets, will expedite the quest to identify pharmaceutical interventions which mimic dietary restriction."

Dr. Mirre Simons, from the University of Sheffield's Department of Animal and Plant Sciences, said:

The effects of diet on health are huge, but we understand little of the exact mechanisms. Our work has now uncovered a surprising property of dietary restriction, in that it makes flies ill-prepared for rich diets. This was contrary to our expectations and contrary to current evolutionary theory. In the biology of aging field evolutionary biology has been highly influential in guiding interpretation of more mechanistic research. Our work thereby contributes to the broader understanding of dietary restriction and the efforts to translate its benefits to humans."

The research was funded by the National Environment Research Council (NERC), Wellcome, the American Federation of Aging Research & the National Institute on Aging.

The work forms part of the research of the Healthy Lifespan Institute at the University of Sheffield. The Institute brings together 120 world-class researchers from a wide range of disciplines with the aim of slowing down the aging process and tackling the global epidemic of multimorbidity – the presence of two or more chronic conditions – in a bid to help everyone live healthier, independent lives for longer and reduce the cost of care.

Source:

University of Sheffield

The addition of dietary L-serine, a naturally occurring amino acid necessary for formation of proteins and nerve cells, delayed signs of amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) in an animal study.

The research also represents a significant advance in animal modeling of ALS, a debilitating neurodegenerative disease, said David A. Davis, Ph.D., lead author and research assistant professor of neurology and associate director of the Brain Endowment Bank at the University of Miami Miller School of Medicine.

The new research protocol using vervets appears more analogous to how ALS develops in humans, Dr. Davis said, compared to historic models using rodents. When he and colleagues gave the vervets a toxin produced by blue-green algae known as β-N-methylamino-L-alanine or BMAA, they developed pathology that closely resembles how ALS affects the spinal cords in humans.

When a group of these animals were fed L-serine together with BMAA for 140 days, the strategy was protective – the vervets showed significantly reduced signs of protein inclusions in spinal cord neurons and a decrease in pro-inflammatory microglia. The results were published on Thursday, February 20 at 5 a.m. EST in the prestigious Journal of Neuropathology & Experimental Neurology.

"The big message is that dietary exposure to this cyanobacterial toxin triggers ALS-type pathology, and if you include L-serine in the diet, it could slow the progression of these pathological changes," Dr. Davis said.

"I was surprised at how close the model mirrored ALS in humans," he added. Beyond looking at changes in the brain, "When we looked at the spinal cord, that was really surprising." The investigators observed changes specific to ALS seen in patients, including presence of intracellular occlusion such as TDP-43 and other protein aggregates.

Walter G. Bradley D.M., F.R.C.P., founder of the ALS Clinical and Research Center at the University of Miami Miller School of Medicine, said: "ALS is a progressive neurological disease, also known as Lou Gehrig's disease, causing progressive limb paralysis and respiratory failure. There is a great unmet need for effective therapies in this disease. After clinical trials of more than 30 potential drugs to treat ALS, we still have only two that slow the disease progression."

Related Stories

  • Healthy diet, healthier sperm, greater fertility
  • Diets high in fat and protein exacerbate C. diff infections in mice
  • As VA tests keto diet to help diabetic patients, skeptics raise red flags

ALS can rapidly progress in some people, leading to death in 6 months to 2 years after diagnosis. For this reason, it is difficult to enroll people in clinical trials, a reality that supports development of a corresponding animal model, Dr. Davis said.

In addition, prevention remains essential. "This is a pre-clinical model, which is really the most important type of model, because once people have full-blown disease, it's hard to reverse or slow its progression," he added.

The research builds on earlier findings from Dr. Davis and colleagues in a 2016 study that demonstrated cyanotoxin BMAA can cause changes in the brain that resemble Alzheimer's disease in humans, including neurofibrillary tangles and amyloid deposits.

Even with the promise of L-serine, the researchers note there is a bigger picture to their new ALS animal model. "Other drugs can also be tested, making this very valuable for clinical affirmation," Davis said.

The research also has implications for Florida, as BMAA comes from harmful blue-green algae blooms, which have become more common in the summer months in Florida.

According to Larry Brand, Ph.D., professor of marine biology at the Rosenstiel School at the University of Miami, "We have found that the BMAA from these blooms has biomagnified to high concentrations in South Florida aquatic food chains, thus our seafood."

We are very curious about how BMAA affects individuals in South Florida. That's our next step."

Dr. David A. Davis, Ph.D., lead author

Future research could attempt to answer multiple questions, including: How common is BMAA in local seafood? What are the risks of exposure through exposure to aerosolized cyanotoxins? Is there a specific group of people who are more vulnerable from this exposure to developing diseases like Alzheimer's and ALS?

The current research would not have been possible, Dr. Davis said, without interdisciplinary collaboration both inside and outside the University of Miami. Another essential factor is the "very unique research environment" in the UM Department of Neurology. For example, the Brain Endowment Bank allows Miller School researchers access to other investigators and to essential research material.

Source:

University of Miami Miller School of Medicine

Journal reference:

Davis, D.A., et al. (2020) L-Serine Reduces Spinal Cord Pathology in a Vervet Model of Preclinical ALS/MND. Journal of Neuropathology & Experimental Neurology. doi.org/10.1093/jnen/nlaa002.