Restricting the food we put into our bodies appears to make them more able to fight off the illnesses which accompany old age.
Lead author Professor Rozalyn Anderson, from the University of Wisconsin, said: ‘Cutting your calories delays ageing, probably because the body uses energy from food differently to become more resilient.
‘By targeting aging itself we could, instead of fighting cancer or cardiovascular disease individually, target the full spectrum of disease simultaneously.’
The latest study is hoped to settle a debate which has been raging for the last seven years on cutting calories.
The University of Wisconsin found in 2009 that rhesus monkeys given 20 per cent less food, compared to those who ate at will, lived far longer – lasting nine years beyond the average lifespan of 26 years.
These monkeys were less likely to get cancer and cardiovascular disease, and to develop the insulin resistance which causes diabetes, leading scientists to believe calorie cutting could reverse the process of ageing.
But a subsequent experiment by the National Institute on Ageing dashed their hopes after finding no impact on survival and only very negligible health benefits.