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The Lempert Report
March 23, 2018

Daphne Koller, Calico's chief computing officer, announced at a CB Insights conference in San Francisco that she and her team had been studying what happens to mice on restricted diets.

Business Insider reports that Koller explained that limiting how many calories the mice consumed appeared to help with some measures of aging — a finding bolstered by a spate of recent studies in animals.

"Caloric restriction is the one intervention that's been repeatedly demonstrated to extend lifespan across multiple species," Koller told BI.

And now to humans.

Researchers published the results of the first-ever clinical trial of caloric restriction in humans in the Journals of Gerontology . For that study, researchers randomly assigned roughly 200 non-obese people ages 21 to 51 to either eat as they normally did or eat 25% fewer calories than usual for two years.

By the study's end, the dieters had seen some hopeful health indicators, like dips in their cholesterol and blood pressure, and had more control over their blood sugar levels. No surprise.

They also lost an average of 15 pounds and kept it off — a positive finding that is rarely seen in weight-loss studies. 

The study was preliminary and designed mostly to see whether people could stick to the diet in the first place. 82% of the participants stayed with it for the full two years. 

A September study published in the journal Nature found that dieting monkeys had cells that appeared, on average, seven years younger than their actual age. The monkeys' diets had been restricted by 30% for two-thirds of their lives, starting when they were middle-aged. 

That study also found that the cells of mice who had eaten 40% fewer calories for nearly their entire lives appeared two years younger — a slightly more pronounced outcome when you consider the average lifespan of the monkeys is 35 years but two to three for the mice. 

"Ultimately what these studies show is that what you eat influences how you age, and it's not all bad news," Rozalyn Anderson, an author of the latest paper who leads an aging-research program at the University of Wisconsin at Madison. 

Once again proving we are what we eat.