New Horizons: Dietary protein, ageing and the Okinawan ratio

Age Ageing. 2016 Jul;45(4):443-7. doi: 10.1093/ageing/afw069. Epub 2016 Apr 28.


Nutrition has profound effects on ageing and lifespan. Caloric restriction is the major nutritional intervention that historically has been shown to influence lifespan and/or healthspan in many animal models. Studies have suggested that a reduction in protein intake can also increase lifespan, albeit not as dramatically as caloric restriction. More recent research based on nutritional geometry has attempted to define the effects of nutrition on ageing over a broad landscape of dietary macronutrients and energy content. Such studies in insects and mice indicate that animals with ad libitum access to low-protein, high-carbohydrate diets have longest lifespans. Remarkably, the optimum content and ratio of dietary protein to carbohydrates for ageing in experimental animals are almost identical to those in the traditional diets of the long-lived people on the island of Okinawa.

Keywords: Okinawa; ageing biology; caloric restriction; low-protein, high-carbohydrate diets; older people; protein restriction.

Publication types

  • Review
  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Age Factors
  • Aging / metabolism*
  • Animals
  • Caloric Restriction
  • Diet, Protein-Restricted*
  • Dietary Carbohydrates / metabolism*
  • Dietary Proteins / adverse effects
  • Dietary Proteins / metabolism*
  • Humans
  • Japan
  • Life Expectancy
  • Models, Animal
  • Nutritional Status*


  • Dietary Carbohydrates
  • Dietary Proteins