What We Know About Calorie Restriction, Health and Longevity

A good scientist is one who takes the time to write introductory papers for researchers outside his speciality, in related research communities that would would benefit from the latest findings, but are unlikely to make their own way to the water. As knowledge grows and science becomes increasingly specialized, each researcher's field of vision a smaller and smaller fraction of the whole, the process of spreading, assimilating and managing information becomes just as important as generating new knowledge.

We lay people also benefit from clear papers that outline the present state of knowledge. Here, for example, is a concise outline of we know about the practice of calorie restriction and its relevance to health and longevity:

An epidemic of overweight/obesity and type 2 diabetes, caused by overeating nutrient-poor energy-dense foods and a sedentary lifestyle, is spreading rapidly throughout the world. Abdominal obesity represents a serious threat to health because it increases the risk of developing many chronic diseases, including cardiovascular disease and cancer.

Calorie restriction (CR) with adequate nutrition improves cardiometabolic health, prevents tumorigenesis and increases life span in experimental animals. The purpose of this review is to evaluate the metabolic and clinical implications of CR with adequate nutrition in humans, within the context of data obtained in animal models.

It is unlikely that information regarding the effect of CR on maximal life span in humans will become available in the foreseeable future. In young and middle-aged healthy individuals, however, CR causes many of the same cardiometabolic adaptations that occur in long-lived CR rodents, including decreased metabolic, hormonal and inflammatory risk factors for diabetes, hypertension, cardiovascular disease and cancer.

Unraveling the mechanisms that link calorie intake and body composition with metabolism and aging will be a major step in understanding the age-dependency of a wide range of human diseases and will also contribute to improve the general quality of life at old ages.

The evidence to date suggests that, barring medical conditions that prevent it, we should all be giving calorie restriction a good long try. The future is pretty scary place if you believe it to involve the full range of obesity-linked degenerative conditions: Alzheimer's, diabetes, heart disease, cancer. Why gamble on the advance of medical technology to rescue you in time from the consequence of bad diet and little exercise? As I've noted in the past, there is already a great deal you can do today, and in the years ahead, to raise your chances of living healthily into the age of working rejuvenation medicine.

Think about it; if you can stash money away in your retirement fund for a time decades distant, why don't you apply the same level of thought and resources to investing in your future health?

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