The discovery, described this month in the journal Antioxidants and Redox Signaling, builds on recent research in animals and humans that has shown a more drastic 20 percent to 40 percent cut in calories slows aging damage. The UF findings indicate even small reductions in calories could have big effects on health and shed light on the molecular process responsible for the phenomenon, which until now has been poorly understood.

"This finding suggests that even slight moderation in intake of calories and a moderate exercise program is beneficial to a key organ such as the liver, which shows significant signs of dysfunction in the aging process," said Christiaan Leeuwenburgh, Ph.D., an associate professor of aging and geriatric research at the UF College of Medicine and the paper's senior author.

UF scientists found that feeding rats just eight percent fewer calories a day and moderately increasing the animals' activity extended their average lifespan and significantly overturned the negative effects of cellular aging on liver function and overall health. An eight percent reduction is the equivalent of a few hundred calories in an average human diet and moderate exercise is equivalent to taking a short walk.

To reveal the workings of the body's chemical climate when aging-related damage happens, UF researchers tracked levels of biomarkers - chemicals and molecules present in the liver - in groups of rats. The researchers also plan to assess the same biomarkers in a study of rats' hearts, muscle and brains.

MEDICA.de; Source: University of Florida