Dietary factors, hormesis and health

Mark P. Mattson

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

214 Scopus citations


The impact of dietary factors on health and longevity is increasingly appreciated. The most prominent dietary factor that affects the risk of many different chronic diseases is energy intake - excessive calorie intake increases the risk. Reducing energy intake by controlled caloric restriction or intermittent fasting increases lifespan and protects various tissues against disease, in part, by hormesis mechanisms that increase cellular stress resistance. Some specific dietary components may also exert health benefits by inducing adaptive cellular stress responses. Indeed, recent findings suggest that several heavily studied phytochemicals exhibit biphasic dose responses on cells with low doses activating signaling pathways that result in increased expression of genes encoding cytoprotective proteins including antioxidant enzymes, protein chaperones, growth factors and mitochondrial proteins. Examples include: activation of the Nrf-2-ARE pathway by sulforaphane and curcumin; activation of TRP ion channels by allicin and capsaicin; and activation of sirtuin-1 by resveratrol. Research that establishes dose response and kinetic characteristics of the effects of dietary factors on cells, animals and humans will lead to a better understanding of hormesis and to improvements in dietary interventions for disease prevention and treatment.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)43-48
Number of pages6
JournalAgeing Research Reviews
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 2008
Externally publishedYes


  • Adaptive stress response
  • Exercise
  • Histone deacetylase
  • Phytochemicals
  • Preconditioning
  • Toxic

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Aging
  • Biochemistry


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