A new study could help dieticians and nutrition experts to better see how food impacts the ageing process.
Professor Seung-Jae Lee and PhD candidate Murat Artan at Pohang University of Science and Technology (POSTECH) in Korea suggested that the smell or taste of food is influenced by sensory neurons, which may produce a hormone responsible for ageing.
Animals can notice changes in many environmental factors such as temperature and the taste or smell of foods. They do this by using sensory neurons and this has been found to control the rate of ageing in various animals.
Impairing these sensory neurons can delay ageing by triggering the release of a well-known anti-aging protein called FOXO, which then causes proteins that protect cells and repair damages in various body parts to be created.
However, the exact relationship between sensory neurons and the anti-ageing FOXO proteins is a mystery.
In their study, published in the journal Genes & Development, the team found that the smell or taste of food can impact sensory neurons that produce insulin-6, an insulin hormone-like factor. This has a direct effect on lifespan.
In addition, they found that insulin-6 from sensory neurons alters the action of FOXO in various tissues.
The team then tried to turn on the function of only a pair of food-sensing sensory neurons by using technique called optogenetics, which mimics the taste of food.
Along with his other researchers, Professor Lee discovered that blue light itself can decrease the lifespan of animals by reducing the amount of the insulin-6 hormone and FOXO without the smell or taste of food.
It has been shown that perception of food increases the level of blood insulin hormone in humans. The team concluded that it was unsurprising to find that food smell or taste play similar roles in ageing by using sensory neurons and hormones like insulin.
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