Harvard Health Letter

Should I restrict calories for longevity?

Ask the doctor

Q. Is there anything to the idea that calorie restriction is good for health, and will that ever translate to a medication?

A. It is true that many animals live longer (and healthier) if the calories they eat are restricted to some degree. Scientists studied why that happens and identified some changes in the body's chemistry that result from calorie restriction. Then they developed some potential medicines that appear capable, in animals, of producing the same changes in body chemistry that calorie restriction does. One such potential medicine is called resveratrol. In animals, resveratrol and several similar (and more potent) compounds have extended life span.

To continue reading this article, you must login.
  • Research health conditions
  • Check your symptoms
  • Prepare for a doctor's visit or test
  • Find the best treatments and procedures for you
  • Explore options for better nutrition and exercise
Learn more about the many benefits and features of joining Harvard Health Online »