Feeling of hunger may be enough to slow down ageing, new study suggests

Dr Julia Jones explains benefits of not having breakfast until 11am

From cupboards stocked up with biscuits to bags of crisps laying around the pantry, there’s no need to be hungry anymore, with a variety of easily purchasable snacks lurking at every corner.

Whether you opt for a healthier alternative or tuck into some junk food between meals, many of us are eating too often.

While hunger is associated with negative feelings, a new study, published in the journal Science, suggests it might offer some health benefits.

The research team found that hunger itself may be enough to slow ageing.

Previous studies have demonstrated that even the taste and smell of food can reverse the beneficial, life-extending effects of diet restriction, even if you don’t eat anything.

READ MORE: The eight-week diet that could make you up to 11 years younger, according to researchers

These findings inspired first author, Kristy Weaver, and the research team to examine whether changes in the brain that prompt the drive to seek food could be behind longer life.

Scott Pletcher, the principal investigator, said: “We’ve sort of divorced [the life-extending effects of diet restriction] from all of the nutritional manipulations of the diet that researchers had worked on for many years to say they’re not required.

“The perception of not enough food is sufficient.”

To put this to a test, the researchers induced hunger in flies in several ways. 

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Interestingly, the findings showed that flies, who showed signs of need-based hunger, lived significantly longer, compared to the other fly models.

Weaver said: “We think we’ve created a type of insatiable hunger in flies. And by doing so, the flies lived longer.”

Despite the promising findings, the researchers noted that caution should be used before applying this to people, but “there’s every reason to expect that the mechanisms discovered are likely to modulate hunger drives in other species”.

The research team’s next step is to examine how the drive to eat for pleasure, present in both flies and people, may be linked to lifespan.

Another dietary approach that leaves you hungry for periods of time and has been linked to many health benefits is intermittent fasting.

You can either eat normally within a certain window each day, for example, within eight hours, eat normally for five days a week, or alternate between eating and fasting daily.

Previously speaking on ITV’s This Morning, Dr Julia Jones, neuroscientist and author of the book F-Bomb Longevity Made Easy, explained that we’re simply eating too often.

Therefore, she suggested that starting with breakfast at 11 am could give your digestive system a needed rest.

What’s more, the expert shared that this simple dietary tweak could add 20 years to your lifespan.

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