Dietary restriction with adequate nutrition is the gold standard for delaying ageing and extending healthspan and lifespan in diverse species, including rodents and non-human primates. In this Review, we discuss the effects of dietary restriction in these mammalian model organisms and discuss accumulating data that suggest that dietary restriction results in many of the same physiological, metabolic and molecular changes responsible for the prevention of multiple ageing-associated diseases in humans. We further discuss how different forms of fasting, protein restriction and specific reductions in the levels of essential amino acids such as methionine and the branched-chain amino acids selectively impact the activity of AKT, FOXO, mTOR, nicotinamide adenine dinucleotide (NAD+), AMP-activated protein kinase (AMPK) and fibroblast growth factor 21 (FGF21), which are key components of some of the most important nutrient-sensing geroprotective signalling pathways that promote healthy longevity.
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