(DGIwire)— You may have heard in the past that restricting calories increases lifespan. Previous research has shown that caloric restriction extended the lifespan of yeast, flies, worms and some strains of mice. You may also have heard that scientists from the National Institute on Aging found that calorie restriction did not extend lifespan for rhesus monkeys. Many past studies have also had mixed results. What are we to conclude from all this?
First, we need to note that there does seem to be health benefits that come from calorie restriction (CR). CR studies consistently note reductions in various age-related diseases like diabetes, arthritis, diverticulosis and cardiovascular problems. All of these conditions occurred at an earlier age in monkeys that were fed a standard diet.
However, the problem with many of these studies is differences in diet and diet quality. Often study “participants” are fed formulated diets, which do not resemble or represent a natural balanced diet. This same problem may be at the root of the contradictions seen in many human dietary studies too. Their results may not be relevant to real life situations.
Is caloric restriction necessary for better health or even a good idea?
“Modern diets and diet programs based around processed foods are already lacking in key nutrients and therefore reducing the amount eaten will probably cause more harm than good. Modern processed foods create deficiencies while overloading our bodies, increasing our risk of many chronic diseases. Still, we are becoming an obese nation and we clearly eat too much; at least too much of the wrong things. This large volume of “frakenfoods” stresses our bodies. They have a negative effect on cell metabolism, gene expression, insulin signaling pathways and other basic biological processes. It is these same biological processes that are responsible for our health or ill health, our weight and our longevity,” according to Tom Griesel, co-author of TurboCharged.
Even if you don’t live any longer, most experts agree that a proper diet and lifestyle will result in better overall health. This will make whatever years you do live better. This is an undisputed fact and it is the best reason to do whatever you can to improve and maintain your health. Studies reveal that the earlier you start the better. Some of the benefits in this particular study were only apparent in the monkeys that started the regimen at a younger age. Years of unhealthy diet and lifestyle inflict a cumulative toll and not all of the damage can be reversed. The sooner you start the better.
Griesel adds, “The ideal diet is naturally nutrient dense and feeds our bodies on the cellular level. When our bodies are getting all the needed nutrients, there is an automatic tendency to eat less than when critical nutrients are absent. The whole process of digestion and processing the food we eat requires quite a bit of energy. The energy requirement is even higher when we eat foods our bodies recognize as toxic. This is the case with most modern processed, manufactured food products.”
Except for short periods, which are useful for rapid fat loss and detoxification, caloric restriction is unnecessary and most likely counterproductive to our health and longevity goals. If you focus on eating the most nutrient dense foods available, you will find it difficult to overeat and will end up with the best and most natural form of calorie restriction. Feeding your body the good stuff it needs and avoiding the bad things is a simple common sense approach that is guaranteed to work without the need for more animal studies.