If free radical production in the mitochondria causes aging, then any intervention which can preserve youthful mitochondrial function should slow aging itself, rather than just alleviating its symptoms. So far, no antioxidant, wonder hormone, or drug has been proven to do this in mammals. But fortunately, there is one proven "anti-aging" therapy - and, indeed, it keeps mitochondria burning clean and bright.
That intervention is Caloric Restriction with Optimal Nutrition (CRON). CRON is such a simple therapy that it's hard to believe that it can so radically intervene in the aging process. But for the last 65 years, scientists have proven, again and again, that if you provide a healthy, non-obese organism with a diet which contains fewer Calories than its body thinks it needs, while ensuring that you provide it with adequate amounts of protein, essential fats, vitamins, and minerals, then you will dramatically slow down the intrinsic aging process of the organism.
And as a result, mammals on calorically-restricted nutritional plans routinely live lives dramatically longer than their normally-fed cousins … and, more excitingly, many exceed the species maximum lifespan as well. 104 , 105 , 106 In other words, an animal eating the CRON way can live longer than that animal is "supposed" to be able to live. Crucially, animals on a caloric restriction nutrition program don't just tack even more of the burdensome "old" years onto the ends of their lives: instead, the added years are healthy ones. In experiment after experiment, by criterion after criterion, CRON-fed animals live longer, live healthier, and live younger than any other animals in the world. CRON animals are smarter, faster, more energetic, and better-looking at ages where animals fed conventional diets are entering the gloomy twilight of their lives. 105, 106
And while there has not yet been a documented case of a person living beyond 120 years on a CRON program, experiments in monkeys 107 and the results of preliminary studies in human beings 108 , 109 , 110 strongly suggest that CRON will have the same effects in humans that it has in laboratory animals. (For more on the effects of CRON, and on human CRON practice, see Beyond the 120 Year Diet by UCLA CRON researcher Dr. Roy Walford)." 111 .
As you might expect from a true anti-aging therapy, CRON reduces free radical damage - but it accomplishes this in a way that's quite different from what can be achieved with conventional antioxidant supplements. E-complex vitamins, melatonin, vitamin C, and the rest do a reasonable job of cleaning up the mess created by the free radicals that bombard the cell from its aging mitochondria, but they can't prevent these free radicals from being formed in the first place. By contrast, CRON dramatically reduces mitochondrial free radical production 65, 100, 112 , - which, as we've noted, is the prime source of free radicals in the body.
Lower free radical production results in less overall mitochondrial free radical damage64 - including the protection of the mitochondrial DNA 112 113- and the preservation youthful mitochondrial structure and function with age. 114 , 115 , 116, 117 As a result, most researchers now believe that caloric restriction's ability to make mitochondria "burn" more cleanly is the most important reason for its unparalleled anti-aging power. 100, 118
Is this starting to sound familiar?