Could a Calorie Restricted Diet Increase Longevity?

The quest for long life and aging gracefully is a hot topic today and thanks to the major progress in the science of medicine, people are living well into their 80’s and 90’s.

A new study that has come to the fore, is the impact calorie restriction has on longevity. In many developing countries where famine and food shortages are commonplace, the population is forced to endure poor diets and calorie restrictions, which results in malnutrition, illnesses associated with starvation and death.

Numerous studies have been conducted on mice and more recently on rhesus monkeys, whereby they were fed a calorie restricted diet.  The adult male monkeys who received 30 percent less food lived up to two years longer and the females up to six years.  The results of the studies on mice showed that the mice with a 10 percent calorie restriction lived longer, those with a 20 percent restriction lived even longer whilst the mice with a 50 percent restriction lived even longer still.  But the mice with a 60 percent calorie restriction starved to death.

If we extrapolate the data about lifespan extension and calorie restriction obtained in mice to humans, we would conclude that the average lifespan could go from 75 to 90 years and the maximum lifespan from 120 to 150 years.   But these findings are mistaken as mice do not have a similar make-up to humans and over-restricting calories can lead to various eating disorders and other illnesses associated with starving the body of its necessary nutrients.  Enduring years of misery to remain super-skinny and trying to prolong your life by maybe a couple of years, is not worth the suffering.  It is far more beneficial to maintain a healthy body weight without depriving yourself of all pleasure.  Moderation is the key!

Research into calorie restriction however, is leading to other discoveries.  Scientists are investigating what they call calorie restriction mimetics, or naturally occurring compounds that mimic the effects of calorie restriction. One of these compounds includes resveratrol that is found in red wine.

In a society where lifespan has already increased significantly in recent decades, many people are looking at the health-span to age in a graceful and healthful way.  Healthy lifestyle choices, including exercise routines, healthy diets and reducing stress play a role in our overall wellbeing, and perhaps with further research on human beings, calorie reduction may play a part in increasing our longevity, healthfully!

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