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Does eating less food make us live longer | Calorie restriction

BY: Jessica | Category: Health and Fitness | Post Date: 2009-07-10

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The concept that eating less food can increase lifespan in living beings is nothing new. Although there have hardly been any experiments on humans so far, tests on our closest biological mammal species (i.e. mice and monkeys) has shown that a calorie-restricted diet has made these species to consistently outlive their well-fed peers by as much as 25 to 40 percent. It is also recommended that people should not try this on their own as over-cutting or cutting wrong nutrients can actually have adverse effects. We should always follow common sense and consult doctors or dietitians as needed.

In a recent research at University of Wisconsin, monkeys were divided in two sets, one group was given regular nourishing diet while the second group was on a 30% reduced calorie diet. Among those who were well nourished, 37 percent of the monkeys have died of age-related diseases compared to 13% who were on restricted calorie diet. Calorie restriction is not about starvation but just proper planning and an optimum balance between proteins, minerals, carbohydrates and fats. These calorie restricted diets should be approved by a dietitian.

Interesting results that might be achieved by reduced diet include:
* On an average, they lived longer.
* Lesser cancerous tumors or heart disease.
* Lesser brain shrinkage with age.
* Retain more muscle.
* Less DNA damage.
* Can also lead to lower levels of fasting insulin and core body temperature.

We all know that people who are obese or over weight can have significant health problems like cholesterol, blood pressure etc .. but we always thought that eating 2000 calories for an average person was optimal. This discovery that eating 20% to 30% lesser calories than normal indicates that we may live longer with calorie restriction, can really be surprising to many. Our body needs certain minimum proportions of vitamins, minerals and even calories regardless of the reduced consumption. Also, minimum food intake can vary based on our daily lifestyle and personal health conditions. An athlete or a body builder might still need far more calories than a person sitting in office all day long. Eat less and live longer mantra is still too premature and results can vary from person to person. Things like exercising regularly, keeping stress low, eating optimum food and being happy are a few factors which can also help us to live longer.

It may take decades to prove that people who carefully regulate their calories and eating patterns extend their life span, but at the very least, some scientists say, these people may avoid many health problems associated with aging. Studies have tried to unravel the mystery and the mechanism by which reducing food intake protects cells against aging and age-related diseases.

Our bodies are very complex and why and how calorie restriction works is still being researched. Although there have been many theories on how calorie restriction works, most believe that it is our metabolism that adjusts itself based on the food and calorie consumption. Researchers are now trying to find out how our bodies break down with age and if that can be linked to the amount of food/calories we consume.

Calorie restriction for longer life is just a concept and not yet widely accepted or proven. This article is only for your reference and it is not recommended to start eating less calorie food based on just this article.

My father always said: EAT TO LIVE and not LIVE TO EAT. He will be very happy to know about these findings. There is also a common saying WE ARE WHAT WE EAT.

Further reading and references:

Eat Less, Live Longer? Gene Links Calorie Restriction To Longevity

Monkeys live longer on low-cal diet; would humans?

Eat Less, Live Longer?

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