0416 GMT December 18, 2017
The potential benefits of moderate food consumption have been observed in tests on mice, express.co.uk reported.
Researchers found those whose intake was slashed by a third were livelier, healthier, lived longer and remained younger than well fed rodents.
They believed this is due to ribosomes, the body’s protein factory, which slows up when there is less to digest meaning they age less quickly.
However, experts warned the study could not be safely replicated in humans.
Catherine Collins, of the British Dietetic Association, said: “We’re all living longer but most of us live longer with a ‘disease of aging’ such as arthritis, diabetes, heart disease.
"And having these conditions affects your quality of life.
"If there was something that we could do to lessen the wear-and-tear on our bodies then many people would have a go.
"It’s been known that food, and so calorie, restriction in animals long term appears to aid healthy aging.
"But we have no experiences in humans — bar the national diet of food rationing during and after World War II — which anyone over 75 will have endured.
"Has that helped our pensioners live longer now? We don’t really know and studies like this one on mice can’t add to answering that question.”
The discovery came about after researchers at Brigham Young University in Utah, the US, conducted an experimental study on two groups of adolescent mice.
One was given unlimited access to food while the other was restricted to 35 percent fewer calories. They were killed after 32 days.
Professor John Price, who led the study, said: “When you restrict calorie consumption there is almost a linear increase in life span.
"We inferred the restriction caused real biochemical changes that slowed down the rate of aging.
"The calorie restricted mice are more energetic and suffered fewer diseases.
"And it’s not just that they’re living longer, but because they’re better at maintaining their bodies, they’re younger for longer as well.”
The possibility going hungry might aid longevity has been under scrutiny for decades. Why it happens remains a mystery but calorie restriction has been shown to extend life span in some species.
Scientists accept being very overweight or underweight appears to increase the risk of ill health and shorten life expectancy.
Research shows that body mass of 27.5 and over or 18.5 and lower is associated with increased mortality.