Nutrition has important long-term consequences for health that are not only limited to the individual but can be passed on to the next generation.
It can contribute to the development and progression of chronic diseases thus effecting life span.
Caloric restriction (CR) can extend the average and maximum life span and delay the onset of age-associated changes in many organisms.
CR elicits coordinated and adaptive stress responses at the cellular and whole-organism level by modulating epigenetic mechanisms (e.g., DNA methylation, posttranslational histone modifications), signaling pathways that regulate cell growth and aging (e.g., TOR, AMPK, p53, and FOXO), and cell-to-cell signaling molecules (e.g., adiponectin).
The overall effect of these adaptive stress responses is an increased resistance to subsequent stress, thus delaying age-related changes and promoting longevity.
In human, CR could delay many diseases associated with aging including cancer, diabetes, atherosclerosis, cardiovascular disease, and neurodegenerative diseases.
As an alternative to CR, several CR mimetics have been tested on animals and humans.
At present, the most promising alternatives to the use of CR in humans seem to be exercise, alone or in combination with reduced calorie intake, and the use of plant-derived polyphenol resveratrol as a food supplement.