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Current Opinion in Clinical Nutrition & Metabolic Care:
doi: 10.1097/MCO.0000000000000019
AGEING: BIOLOGY AND NUTRITION: Edited by Tommy Cederholm and John E. Morley

Caloric restriction, caloric restriction mimetics, and healthy aging in Okinawa: controversies and clinical implications

Willcox, Bradley J.a,b; Willcox, Donald C.a,b,c

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Abstract

Purpose of review: To examine the role of two nutritional factors implicated in the healthy aging of the Okinawans: caloric restriction; and traditional foods with potential caloric restriction-mimetic properties.

Recent findings: Caloric restriction is a research priority for the US National Institute on Aging. However, little is known regarding health effects in humans. Some caloric restriction-related outcomes, such as cause-specific mortality and lifespan, are not practical for human clinical trials. Therefore, epidemiological data on older Okinawans, who experienced a caloric restriction-like diet for close to half their lives, are of special interest. The nutritional data support mild caloric restriction (10–15%) and high consumption of foods that may mimic the biological effects of caloric restriction, including sweet potatoes, marine-based carotenoid-rich foods, and turmeric. Phenotypic evidence is consistent with caloric restriction (including short stature, low body weight, and lean BMI), less age-related chronic disease (including cardiovascular diseases, cancer, and dementia), and longer lifespan (mean and maximum).

Summary: Both caloric restriction and traditional Okinawan functional foods with caloric restriction-mimetic properties likely had roles in the extended healthspan and lifespan of the Okinawans. More research is needed on health consequences of caloric restriction and foods with caloric restriction-mimetic properties to identify possible nutritional interventions for healthy aging.

© 2014 Wolters Kluwer Health | Lippincott Williams & Wilkins

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