Caloric restriction may improve memory in seniors. It also may increases lifespan by different mechanisms such as increasing the levels of dehydroepiandrosterone (DHEA), through xenohormesis, a process where plants pass on their stress-resilient phytonutrients, and/or through the inhibition of the enzyme TOR, which also protect from some invasive cancers and have positive effects on the reduction of metabolic syndrome and blood sugar levels. Since the effects of caloric restriction seem to correlate more with protein intake than calorie restriction itself, the adoption of a low protein diet can potentially include all the benefits of caloric restriction without the side effects of starvation. A severely calorie restricted diet is difficult to sustain and might carry unwanted side-effects, but a plant-based diet was shown to have similar effects on DHEA levels as caloric restriction. Plant-based diets have also been linked to increased longevity due to their naturally low amounts of methionine and leucine, two amino acids associated with aging and tumor development that tend to be more concentrated in animal protein (see also here). Plant-based diets may also be as effective as calorie restriction for weight loss.
Topic summary contributed by Mariana.