Cutting out the French fries, burgers, chips, candy, beer, soda, and other delicious yet largely non-nutritious food and drink from your diet is generally a good idea. One of the reasons, health experts suspect, is that somehow a reduced-calorie diet leads to a longer life. Now, researchers at Imperial College London have looked at a dog’s life and discovered why dietary restriction could lead to a longer life.
Jeremy Nicholson and colleagues followed 12 “pairs” of dogs in which one partner in each pair was given 25% less food than the other. Nicholson and his colleagues found that the dogs who had less food lived almost 2 years longer (that perhaps equates to between 10 and 14 years). They also found that those dogs suffered less diabetes and osteoarthritis, and were older on average when plagued by the common diseases of old age.
The scientists believe that differences in the populations of microbes in the dogs’ guts could partly explain the metabolic differences. The dogs that were not on a restricted diet had increased levels of potentially unhealthy aliphatic amines in their urine, the team found. The presence of higher levels of these compounds indicate reduced levels of choline, the compound essential for metabolizing fat. Such a microbial profile has, in other studies, been associated with the development of insulin resistance and obesity in humans.
Nicholson explains: “This fascinating study was primarily focused on trying to find optimized nutritional regimes to keep pet animals such as dogs healthy and as long-lived as possible. However these types of life-long studies can help us understand human diseases and aging as well, and that is the added bonus of being able to do long-term non-invasive metabolic monitoring.”
So, might this study be applicable to humans and should we too be cutting down on our doggy treats and Pedigree Chum? Potentially, yes. Despite superficial appearances and the sometimes disgusting things dogs choose to eat, the flora and fauna of our guts are very similar. It all depends on whether cutting your burger and soda intake by 25% is worth it for those extra 10 to 14 dog years.
Details of the study are published today in the Journal of Proteome Research. The paper is one in a special issue of the journal in “Metabolomics, Metabonomics, and Metabolic Profiling in Complex Organisms: The Portals to “Real-Life” Systems Biology”.
Choline chemical structure
In totally, unrelated canine news, scientists from the University of Utah and seven other institutions have identified a piece of doggy DNA that reduces the activity of a growth gene, ensuring that small breeds stay small. More on that via Newswise.