Eat Less, Live Longer?
How long would you really want to live if you were always hungry and lacked the energy for sports?
The results of a new study from Louisiana State University suggest that eating a low-calorie diet may slow cellular aging in humans and possibly even extend the lifespan. Previous studies have shown that low-calorie diets extend rat lives, but this new study is the first to show evidence of this correlation in humans.
A major aspect of aging is irreparable DNA damage within individual cells. Some such damage happens as an unavoidable side effect of nutrient metabolism. Lowering one's caloric intake results in lowering one's metabolism, which, it now appears, also lowers the rate of DNA damage in cells. Further research is needed to determine whether this effect translates into longer life.
The new study involved 48 subjects randomly assigned to three groups. One group cut their current daily caloric intake by 25 percent, a second group cut their caloric intake by 12.5 percent and took up exercise, and a third group consumed liquid meals totaling a paltry 890 calories per day. All three groups lost weight, lowered their metabolism and core body temperature, and exhibited reduced rates of cellular aging.
Inspired by the latest findings, a group of researchers is now preparing to launch a large, two-year study of the effects of calorie reduction on human aging. Dubbed CALERIE (Comprehensive Assessment of Long-Term Effects of Reducing Intake of Energy), this study will be conducted at three different sites around the country: Pennington Biomedical Research Center, Louisiana State University, Baton Rouge; Jean Mayer USDA Human Nutrition Research Center on Aging at Tufts University, Boston, Mass.; and Washington University in St. Louis.
I have no problem with the fact that this study is happening, because it will increase our knowledge and anything that increases our knowledge is good. But I do have a problem with the idea of actually reducing one's caloric intake for the sake of increasing lifespan (assuming that a very low calories diet does in fact increase lifespan, which is something man experts still doubt). My goal in life is not to live as long as I possibly can, but to live as well as I can. I would rather live 75 vital years than 90 years that are necessarily less vital because I'm not eating enough to get the energy I need for true vitality. And frankly, I can't imagine that anyone would want it the other way around
In reducing your caloric intake to the bare minimum needed for survival, I believe, one is sure to sacrifice quality of life for quantity. Thriving in life requires lots of energy, and our only source of energy is food calories.
It also bothers me that none of the articles I've read on this topic mentions exercise. We know that exercise increases both longevity and vitality. Yet exercise also increases caloric needs. So it follows that by reducing your caloric intake, you lower your capacity for exercise and therefore lose its benefits. Consequently, you wind up at square one, or square minus one, I should say.
Sure, one group of subjects in the Louisiana State study cited above combined modest calorie reduction with exercise and saw some benefit, but I suspect that exercise alone can provide all the life-extension and vitality-boosting benefits anyone needs. In other words, if you exercise enough to maintain a healthy weight, you don’t need to cut calories at all.
Nutrition article courtesy of PacificHealth Laboratories, makers of nutrition tools such as Accelerade, Accel Gel, Endurox R4, Endurox Excel and much more. For product information or to purchase products, please visit www.pacifichealthlabs.com.
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