Old Food, New Food & Lifespan: Any Link?

“YOU are what you eat – so does eating old food make you old? It sounds far-fetched, but experiments on mice, flies and yeast suggest that it might.

The fundamental causes of ageing aren’t understood. One leading idea is that throughout life, our bodies accumulate cellular damage. Vadim Gladyshev at Harvard University wondered whether this damage can be acquired through food.

Food is broken down and used as the building blocks for many cellular processes, so eating older organisms – which have more cellular damage themselves – might cause an animal to age faster than one that eats younger organisms with less damage.” (Wong, 2017, p.11).

The old diet shortened lifespan by (Lee et al., 2017):

  • 18% in yeast;
  • 13% in flies; and
  • 13% in female mice, no apparent affect in male mice.

However, the researchers did note that:

  • There was only a small effect on animals fed on old animals for their entire lives;
  • People do not tend to eat old animals; and
  • Our diets are more varied.


Wong, S. (2017) Eating Old Food Shortens Animals Lifespans. New Scientist. 25 February 2017.

Lee, S-G., Kaya, A., Avanesov, A.S., Podolskiy, D.I., Song, E.J., Go, D-M., Jin, G-D., Hwang, J.Y., Kim, E.B., Kim, D-Y. & Gladyshev, V.N. (2017) Age-associated Molecular Changes are Deleterious and May Modulate Life Span through Diet. Science Advances. 3(2), pp. e1601833. doi: 10.1126/sciadv.1601833.


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