People who exercise more live longer. Or is it people who eat more vegetables? Or is it people who have a little excess body fat? None of these is accurate, according to a new aging study out of Brown University. In fact, no single factor can explain the aging process. Rather, lifespan is determined by complex interactions among diet, mitochondrial DNA, and nuclear DNA. In the study, 18 different genetic lines of flies were fed diets differing in their proportion of proteins to carbohydrates. Researchers found that the how diet affected the flies depended on their genetic make up.
What’s the Big Idea?
Beyond following general health guidelines, such as eating a balanced diet and exercising moderately, more intimate knowledge of a person’s genetic make up will be necessary to extend their longevity. “Rather than despairing that combinatorial interactions of diets, nuclear genes, and mitochondrial genes make the underlying biology of aging intractably complex, Rand and lead author Chen-Tseh Zhu said studies that explicitly embrace such multifactorial interactions can lead researchers to understand the inherent biological complexity of the aging process: Many genes, many cells, and many environments all contribute to the aging process.”