(NaturalNews) There is a growing body of believers, especially longevity-seeking Baby Boomers, who believe that by drastically limiting the amount of food they consume, they will slow the aging process and extend their life. It's a radical, controversial premise; the less you eat, the longer you'll live.
CR, calorie restriction, doesn't mean deprivation or starvation, but it does require eating fewer calories than the body is accustomed to receiving and it flies in the face of conventional recommended daily calorie intake guidelines.
Typical diets focus on weight loss, but CR is a different kind of diet that reduces long term calorie intake and promotes the consumption of nutrient dense foods. This pursuit holds the elusive promise of lengthening the human life span, and even -- as some submit -- immortality.
There are many compelling arguments to support the longevity issue, but advocates believe that at the very least, following CR precepts will enhance your health right now by minimizing body fat, inhibiting cell mutation, lowering blood glucose levels, decreasing inflammation, activating brain-alertness, promoting deep restful sleep, increasing energy levels and creating a more youthful biological age.
Recent studies from the National Institute on Aging, Harvard University, and Washington University concur and say that a calorie restricted diet includes many benefits, one of them being extending human life. Lab studies dating back to the thirties show that mice and all sorts of laboratory critters, when placed on a severely restricted diet
, lived fifty percent longer than the oldest members of their peer community.
Biosphere 2 seemed like a study out of a science fiction novel; nevertheless it proved an unintended point. In 1991 in the Arizona desert, eight scientists sealed themselves inside an airtight terrarium to prove they could live isolated for two years in a self-sustained ecosystem. Something went terribly wrong and they realized they couldn't grow enough food
for them to survive the two years. Without Roy Walford, a UCLA pathologist and team physician, the entire team would have starved to death, but fortuitously he had been studying calorie restriction for decades and was able to parse their meager food supply thereby drastically cutting their calories
for the duration of the experiment. You would think when they emerged from their habitat they would be gaunt, pasty and in need of medical help; quite the opposite. They were healthier in almost every respect than when they had sealed themselves in two years prior. Dr. Walford later wrote a book, Beyond the 120-Year Diet: How to Double Your Vital Years.
While there is no specified meal plan with CR, the recommendation is to eat twenty to thirty percent less than accepted conventional recommendations for healthy calorie intake. Sugar, saturated fats, and most dairy products are shunned. Fruits, vegetables and whole grains are the mainstay foods which make up the bulk of the diet, but savvy people already know that these particular foods are the ones hallowed as the basis of a healthy diet anyway.
Be forewarned though lest you rush to throw everything out in your refrigerator. It has been shown that without an accompanying healthy lifestyle, including exercise in particular, strict calorie restriction can lead to loss of bone density. A one year study of 46 participants at Washington University School of Medicine, St. Louis, conducted by Dennis T. Villareal M.D. revealed that individuals in the CR group not only lost weight, but also lost an average of 2.2% of their bone density in the lower spine, 2.2% at the hip and 2.1% at the top of the femur, all high risk areas for fracture. An article in the Archives of Internal Medicine - JAMA, states that without exercise, restricting calories may lead to bone density loss.
This would seem to be the green light; if we exercise and restrict calories maybe then we can live forever, but not so. Other studies have shown that if people with very little body fat drastically cut calories they can actually do more harm than good to their health
. So, we have to count every calorie, know if our body fat is appropriate, exercise enough to keep our bones strong -- then it could be worth it.
The fountain of youth, living forever; the temptation to jump on board is tantalizing. The prudent thing to do is proceed with caution, understand the positives and negatives and keep a discerning mind. It might be wonderful to live a long life, but not if it's one burdened by osteoporosis and fractured bones.
Your health mate,
) Julian Dibbell, Elisa Zied, R.D. 10/05/07
Life Extension Magazine 09/08 Paul McGlothin and Meredith Averill
Review of their book The CR Way
About the author
Deanna Dean is the Wellness Director for Your Health Coach, a company dedicated to health and wellness education.
Dee is a Wellness & Weight Loss Coach, a Certified Natural Health Professional, is pursuing an ND degree-Naturopathic Doctor, is a certified Raw Chef, certified in Dietary Guidelines from the Cooper Institute for Aerobics Research, former Personal Trainer, Yoga and Fitness Studio Owner, TV and Radio Guest, Health Columnist.
Deanna develops customized programs to enhance the health of her clients, educates, and coaches dieters for safe weight loss.