Paleo diets, which may be low in dietary acids such as phosphate and high in base precursors such as citrate and malate, may help slow metabolic processes associated with aging. These include:
1) slowing progressive acid-induced damage to the kidneys, which would help preserve the kidneys ability to excrete acid and minimize systemic acidosis;
2) avoiding the downregulation of klotho, a membrane and soluble factor associated with aging that decreases with constant high dietary phosphate intake and FGF-23 production; and
3) potentially improving telomerase activity to help maintain telomere length, another factor associated with longer lifespan.
Although the present data is mainly from studies in invertebrate and small animal models, extrapolation of these results, as well as some associated results in human studies, suggests that low acid diets (which includes some Paleo diets) may be a factor in living longer.
Lynda Frassetto, MD, is a Professor of Medicine in the Division of Nephrology at the University of California, San Francisco (USCF). She teaches and supervises both inpatient and outpatient nephrology at the University and the Veteran’s Administration hospitals. She has been doing research for many years on how diet influences acid-base balance and health, as well as research in drug interactions in transplantation, and most recently, setting up clinical trials for the bioartificial kidney system being developed at UCSF.