A recent study has shown that hunger may help in slowing down the aging process and even the perception of inadequate food can extend life expectancy. This study was published in the journal Science and discovered that hunger led to an increase in the lifespan of fruit flies.
Researchers from the University of Michigan found that inducing hunger in flies either by depriving them of amino acid molecules or by stimulating brain regions associated with the motivation to eat resulted in a longer lifespan.
Scott Pletcher, a co-author of the study, explained that they have separated the life-extending effects of dietary restriction from various nutritional manipulations that researchers have focused on for many years.
Details About The Study
The researchers employed various methods to stimulate hunger in the flies. One approach involved modifying the amount of branched-chain amino acid molecules (BCAAs) in a snack food and later allowing the flies to freely choose between a buffet of yeast or sugar food.
The study revealed that flies fed a low-BCAA snack consumed more yeast than sugar from the buffet, compared to those fed a high-BCAA snack. The researchers also noted that the preference for yeast over sugar indicated a hunger based on need. Furthermore, they found that flies on a lifelong low-BCAA diet lived significantly longer than those on high-BCAA diets.
By exposing flies to red light, scientists activated the hunger-related nerve cells. As a result, the flies consumed more food than those not exposed to the light. These flies also exhibited a longer lifespan compared to the control group.
Kristy Weaver, another co-author of the study, stated that they believe they have created a form of insatiable hunger in flies and by doing so, the flies lived longer. Although this method was tested only on flies, scientists believe that the mechanisms discovered are likely to affect hunger drives in other species.