Can You Prevent Aging?

Red Wine© George Doyle/Stockbyt/Thinkstock

If it might prevent aging (or, more realistically, slow it), any small success in a research lab makes an immediate leap onto the front page. But have these much ballyhooed approaches stood the test of time and further investigation?

Calorie restriction

A healthy but radically downsized meal plan can extend life for fruit flies, yeast, and rodents. It has even shown some promising results in humans, lowering fasting insulin levels, for instance—but only if volunteers stick to an extremely stringent diet (about 1,400 calories a day). Research continues, but it’s not clear that such a diet is safe—or tolerable—for people over the long haul.

Resveratrol

This compound, found in red wine, grapes, and some nuts, raised hopes when experiments showed it increased the life span of mice. Sadly, for you to take in an equivalent amount, you’d have to quaff more bottles of red wine daily than would be healthy over weeks or even years. High-dose resveratrol supplements are available, but scientists don’t know if such pills are safe or effective.

Human growth hormone

Injections of this hormone, which naturally declines with age, can increase muscle mass (but not necessarily strength). Unfortunately, such supplements may also have damaging side effects, possibly raising the risk of diabetes and high blood pressure, among other things. The shots will certainly drain your bank account: A year’s worth can cost $15,000 or more.

Plus: 7 Anti-Aging Techniques

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