Calorie Restricted Diets Could Prevent Infertility
The popular calorie-restriction diet for longevity may have an added benefit of preventing infertility, says new study.
The severe restriction of calories practiced in diets such as the Okinawa and CRON-diet is believed by researchers to have an anti-aging affect on DNA, thus preventing damage to the reproductive eggs that lead many women unable to have children.
Embraced by the growing number of people world-wide, calorie-restriction diets have been the subject of many research studies seeking to understand their effect on the human body. It has been found that by reducing daily caloric intake by up to 40% people can lower their blood pressure, reduce cholesterol, control blood sugar, and even add years on to their lives.
Intrigued by the potential anti-aging benefits of fewer calories, researchers from Massachusetts sought to examine the effect of this diet on reproductive function. According to the website of Dr. Norbert Gleicher, expert in fertility and aging, premature menopause is a condition suffered by many as 50% of women in which the ovaries begin the aging process long before expected. When this occurs the quality of the females eggs are affected which can lead to birth defects or, in many cases, infertility.
In their study, which appears in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences the researchers used adult mice to explore the effect of caloric restriction on ovarian function. Lead researcher on the project and director of the Vincent Center for Reproductive Biology, Jonathan Tilly M.D. explained their discovery, "We found that we could completely prevent, in a mouse model, essentially every aspect of the declining egg quality typical of older females.”
Although the exact cause of the effect was unknown, Tilly and his team were able to identify a specific gene called PGC-1g which appeared to be responsible for the anti-aging phenomenon. This gene, they said, can be manipulated to reproduce the same affect as a calorie-restriction diet – without the diet.
Tilly and his associates suggest that perhaps developing medications to mimic calorie-restriction diet may be the future of prevention and treatment of premature menopause.
"If we find a way to safely reproduce in humans the effects we see in this study... we may be able both to improve a woman's chance of getting pregnant and, for those who do need assisted reproductive technology, to improve the quality of the eggs we use to minimize if not eliminate the age-related increase in Down syndrome and other chromosomal disorders," explained Tilly.
This study was published online in PNAS ahead of print. Selesniemi, K. et al “Prevention of maternal aging-associated oocyte aneuploidy and meiotic spindle defects in mice by dietary and genetic strategies.”
Premature Menopause expert Dr. Norbert Gleicher