Eating low-protein may prolong your life, say researchers

Fasting. Time-restricted eating. Eating for five days, then fasting for two. Lately it appears everyone is interested in some sort of calorie-restricted diet to better their chances for a longer life with fewer chronic diseases.But what if you could get the same longevity benefits without having to eat less?

New research shows limiting protein-rich foods that naturally contain high levels of sulfur amino acids, such as meats, dairy, nuts and soy, may reduce the risk for cardiovascular disease. If future research bears that out, it may be another stepping stone to better health and longer life.

“For decades it has been understood that diets restricting sulfur amino acids were beneficial for longevity in animals,” said John Richie, a professor of public health sciences at Penn State College of Medicine in a statement.”

This study provides the first epidemiologic evidence that excessive dietary intake of sulfur amino acids may be related to chronic disease outcomes in humans,” Richie added.

In the search for another path to the fountain of youth, researchers have been exploring the role of methionine and cysteine, two of the body’s nine essential amino acids which contain sulfur. In test tubes and animal studies, it appears restricting foods high in dietary sulfur amino acids delayed aging and increased lifespans.

In one early study of rats, limiting methionine by 80% increased the rats’ lifespans by an average of 43%. Research since then has duplicated that benefit.But translating that amazing result to humans would be tricky. Sulfur amino acids play key roles in growth, so restricting those foods in rats created stunted, smaller creatures that happened to live longer with fewer diseases.

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