Calorie Restriction

Reprinted with permission of Life Extension

How long we live may not be determined by what we eat so much as how much we eat. Of all the potential antiaging approaches, none have so far shown the promise of caloric restriction. Over the past 75 years, many studies have shown that caloric restriction extends life span in a wide variety of species, from invertebrates to rodents, to mammals.

People imagine that caloric restriction is associated with near-starvation and constant hunger, or malnutrition due to inadequate intake of dietary nutrients. In fact, caloric restriction, if undertaken correctly, is a healthy lifestyle that is accompanied by weight loss, only occasional hunger, optimal nutrition, and other health benefits. To stress the importance of a healthy lifestyle, caloric restriction will henceforth be referred to as “caloric restriction with optimal nutrition” or CRON.

Fresh Veggies

Data from the Baltimore Longitudinal Study of Aging suggests that long-lived humans exhibit some of the same physiological and biochemical changes that accompany caloric restriction in animals. Survival rates are highest in those with low body temperatures and low levels of circulating insulin (Roth GS et al 2002). In addition, levels of serum dehydroepiandrosterone (DHEA), a presumed longevity marker (Kalimi M et al 1999), are also higher in long-lived individuals (Roth GS et al 2002). In primates undergoing CRON, DHEA levels are also conserved (Lane MA et al 1997).

Before going on a CRON program, the Life Extension Foundation recommends that you obtain a blood chemistry profile. This will allow you to monitor your progress through subsequent blood tests. During CRON, fasting blood glucose and insulin levels should fall, as should insulin-like growth factor-I (IGF-I) levels. HDL should rise. Blood pressure, which can be measured at most pharmacies without charge, should fall. For more information on blood testing, call 1-800-544-4440. If you intend to practice severe caloric restriction (30 percent to 40 percent), we recommend that you do so under the care of a knowledgeable physician.

The Life Extension Foundation suggests that you reduce calories by eating plenty of fresh organic fruits and vegetables, soluble fiber, and lean protein.

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