Some research has indicated that by restricting eating in various ways, lifespan could be extended. Time-restricted eating (TRE) dietary regimens, for example, aim to limit food consumption to specific hours. Some studies have suggested that TRE may help with weight loss, but these findings have involved male mouse models. New research by scientists at the Salk Institute has indicated that the advantages of TRE depend on age and sex, but TRE can still deliver several health benefits to both sexes, young and old. This work, published in Cell Reports, has determined that TRE could help people with fatty liver disease, type 2 diabetes, liver cancer, and potentially some infectious diseases.
The incidence of liver cancer has been on the rise, and the disease may start with glucose intolerance, which can lead to non-alcoholic fatty liver disease. Glucose intolerance is also related to the development of pre-diabetes and diabetes, so finding ways to treat glucose intolerance could help prevent several disorders. TRE may be one of those ways.
“For many TRE clinical interventions, the primary outcome is weight loss, but we’ve found that TRE is good not only for metabolic disease but also for increased resilience against infectious diseases and insulin resistance,” said Satchidananda Panda, a professor in Salk’s Regulatory Biology Laboratory.
Instead of using only young, male mice in this research, the scientists gave groups of male and female mice of two different ages (about the equivalent of twenty- and forty-year-old people) a high-fat, high-sugar diet.
An analysis of the tissues and various health parameters of the mice indicated that TRE could help prevent fatty liver disease in the mice, who would normally get the disease from their diet. The mice were also better at regulating glucose levels when subjected to TRE. When the researchers put a mouse model of sepsis on a TRE regimen, they also found that survival rates improved in both male and female septic mice.
Interestingly, muscle mass was increased and muscle performance was improved in the male mice subjected to TRE, compared to those that were not. The researchers suggested that TRE might also be a way to help elderly people increase their muscle mass, which could reduce the chance of dangerous falls.
The researchers are planning on continuing to study TRE; they are interested in whether TRE can help muscle repair or regeneration, and how it may affect metabolism.
“These are very exciting questions for us, and we look forward to studying them in more detail,” added Panda.