Eating 40 percent less food could extend your life by 20 years, according to researchers.  

A group of scientists at the Institute of Health Ageing at University College London is developing a treatment they hope will fight the "disease" of aging by studying fruit flies, which share nearly 60 percent of human genes and age in a way that is remarkably similar to humans.

Researchers will be focusing on how genetics and lifestyle, particularly diet, can be changed to the slow the aging process and add years, and possibly even decades, to a person's life.

"We work on yeast worms and flies and we try to discover any genetic or environmental manipulation that extends their healthy lifespan," Matthew Piper, one of the researchers of the team working at the institute, said in a university podcast about the 2012 Royal Society Summer Science Exhibition. "And the point is, of course, that we don't want to learn how to extend to life span, really, of yeast worms and flies. We want to understand how to extend the healthy lifespan of humans."

"That really differentiates the research we do from any other type of biomedical research like cancer research, or arthritis, or diabetes research. We think those things are actually symptoms of one common cause and that's aging itself.  So if we can treat aging, we can actually treat all the diseases of aging simultaneously," Piper said.

Researchers believe that if they discover the genes involved with aging, they would be able to delaying aging and extend a person's healthy lifespan.

Piper and his team have been using modified diets and drug treatments to extend the healthy lifespans of flies and mice, and they say that the findings indicate that such treatments might also benefit people. 

Nonetheless, Piper in his team found that cutting off 40 percent of a rat's food intake successfully extended its life by 30 percent longer, which is equal to about 20 years of human life, according to the Independent.

"This has shown on all sorts of organisms, even Labradors," Piper said, the UK-based paper reported.

Researchers have also successfully prolonged the healthy lifespan in flies by treating them with drugs and altering their diets.

"If we discover the genes involved with ageing, we should be able to delay ageing itself. This is what we've found," he said.

He added that his team has found way to successfully extend the life of organisms by mutating single genes, and to reduce the effects of a mutation that can cause Alzheimer's disease

However, the research is only about a decade old, and is "all theoretical at the moment," Piper said. "There is no timeline on when it could be used for humans."

Piper's research will be shown at the 2012 Royal Society Summer Science Exhibition, which runs from July 3 to July 8 in London.

Video: Healthy aging: Dr Matt Piper | The Royal Society