The Link Between Calorie Restriction and Longevity


Listen to The Link Between Calorie Restriction and Longevity

One of the first studies to explore the effects of calorie restriction on humans showed that cutting caloric intake by 15% for two years slowed ageing and metabolism and protected against age-related diseases. The study found that calorie restriction decreased systemic oxidative stress, which has been linked to age-related neurological conditions such as Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s diseases. These findings may have significant implications for age-related diseases, including diabetes, cancer, cardiovascular disease, and some neurodegenerative diseases.

To investigate the effects of reducing food intake, Leanne Redman, an endocrinologist from the Pennington Biomedical Research Center at Louisiana State University, and her colleagues enrolled 53 healthy men and women between the ages of 21 and 50 and split them into two groups—one group reduced their caloric intake by 15% over two years, and the other remained on a regular diet.

The team found that the people who ate a restricted diet lost an average of approximately 9 kgs and experienced a 10% drop in their resting metabolic rates. When the researchers examined the participants’ blood, they also found a reduction in markers of oxidative stress in those who cut down on calories.

“After two years, the lower rate of metabolism and level of calorie restriction was linked to a reduction in oxidative damage to cells and tissues,” Redman says.

In other words, the by-products of metabolism accelerate the ageing processes and calorie restriction, when sustained over several years, may help to decrease the risk of chronic diseases and subsequently prolong life.

It all begins with the ills of the modern diet. Not only have humans drastically increased their consumption of processed foods, preservatives, and sugar over the past century, but we now live in a world with 24-hour access to food. We eat throughout the day, and long into the night. These, round-the-clock eating patterns have contributed to an epidemic of obesity and Type 2 diabetes. Restricting calories can undoubtedly help you maintain a healthy weight and avoid the kinds of chronic illnesses that reduce life expectancy.

Longevity in humans is still an unpredictable by-product of our individual biology, behaviour and circumstance. However, the objective, according to researchers, is merely to make the healthy portion of our lives last longer.

What if living longer could be driven by something as simple as eating less? Wouldn’t that be incredible? Unfortunately, even if Redman’s research is found to work well, calorie restriction isn’t for everyone. If you have a history of eating disorders, check with your doctor before starting any new regimen.

Reducing your calorie intake requires careful meal planning, and side effects can include a loss of libido and body temperature. People who want to try eating less to live longer should focus on portion sizes while still following a healthy and well-balanced diet.

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