October 30, 2002
Calorie Restriction Slows Heart Genetic Aging
Calorie Restriction (CR) is the only known consistent reliable way to extend life expectancy of a large variety of animals using wild type strains of animals (ie leaving aside in-bred lab strains that have special health problems). This latest result is not surprising but does suggest that CR's benefit may lie in its ability to reduce accumulation of genetic damage.
The hearts of mice on the low-calorie diets showed nearly 20% fewer age-related genetic changes and also appeared to have less DNA damage than those of mice on regular diets. Restricting calories also inhibited potentially disease-causing changes in the immune system, and suppressed apoptosis, or programmed cell death.
Its not too late to benefit.
Numerous studies on animals have shown nutritious diets low in calories can result in significant health benefits, slow ageing and extend longevity. In some cases, the life-spans of animals in experiments have been increased by as much as a third. Even when calorie intake was not restricted until middle age, the life-span of mice increased by 20 per cent.
Eat less, live longer:
"Based on our finding, it appears that if people reduce their current calorie intake between 20 and 40% -- even starting in middle age -- they may delay the development of heart disease or possibly even prevent it," professor of genetics Tomas Prolla, PhD, tells WebMD.
Starve myself? I don't know if I'll live longer but, it's sure gonna seem longer.
I wonder if the life-extending effect could come from the reduction of carbohydrates vs. the reduction of all calories. Carbohydrate intake induces blood glucose spikes and then a rise in blood insulin. These rises can have damaging effects, and cause weight gain. (I.e. I am talking about the medical theory behind the Atkins diet.)
Of course, I have a personal stake in this, as I am a diabetic who is currently on the Atkins diet and because of it, able to forgo my glucose-control medication completely - my blood sugar levels are far lower (between 75 and 95) than they ever were under a "normal" diet + medication. I have also lost 25 lbs. in about 2 months, truly significant progress.
And as far as it "seeming longer" (i.e. the life-long torture of straight calorie restriction) I am comfortable and can think clearly on this diet - I don't feel like I am starving. This is important in the real world where being able to think is essential to my job as a programmer.
So I wonder if there are any modified CR-like tests going on for this alternate carbohydrate/glucose/insulin vs. plain calories hypothsis. After all, the calories in food are measured by burning it in a closed container and measuring the resulting tempature rise - a very crude model for biological processes.
Eric, To get the metabolism into the state that results in a big life extension really does require CR. The scientific literature on this is immense. Many other diets have been tried in a variety of animal species and CR is the only way found so far to get a big life extension effect. CR does lower blood glucose. But it has a number of other effects which are involved in providing its benefits.
Scientists are looking for other ways to put the metabolism into the state which CR puts the body into. For example, Biomarker Pharmaceuticals is using gene microarray studies to look for compounds that induce the same metabolic state. Stephen Spindler of UC Riverside (and CTO of Biomarker Pharmaceuticals) has shown using microarrays a large set of genes that get turned on and off by CR and Biomarker is now trying to find drugs that will induce the same metabolic state. Other companies and research groups are purusing the same goal.
Still, it would be interesting to see how gene expression is different in people on the Atkins diet vs on other diets. Perhaps Atkins provides a partial benefit.
It seems to me that it is easy to assume low-calorie = low-fat. And if so it may seem like a good idea to become vegetarian or vegan in order to follow a strict life-long calorie restricted diet. But I wouldn't be surprised if an Atkins diet could be followed, but restricted to meet the limited number of calories on a calorie restricted diet, and still meet the nutritional requirements (in order not to become nutrient-deficient). I think this because, in this case, fat/oil would replace carbohydrates - calorie for calorie - (and therefore one would have to eat less total food weight in order for the calories to equate, as fat carries more calories than carbohydrates do). Nutrients would come from animal products and fruit/vegetables.
I have been half heartedly following a calorie restricted diet for a couple of years now but since the beginning of 2003 I have been practising it quite religously ,there are so many important things that I still have to do that I worry about my available time left ( I am currently 44 years old ).I have been experimenting with foods that have low calories ,high vitamin content but still leave you feeling satified.Try and go for foods that have a very high fibre or water content ,e.g unmilled oats , high fibre bread , lettuce , cabbage . Don't just be satisfied with brown bread look for hi fibre bread , a lot of places don't stock it but look around & you will find it at some store , buy three loaves & keep them in the freezer.I make sure that the fats I have are of the highest quality , I use raw nuts & first press virgin olive oils .It sounds expensive but shop around & you will find better prices.Whatever you do never use that hydrogenated oil crap , it is pure poison for everybody , one day in the future it will be illegal to sell hydrogenated oil . Our grand children will look back & think .... my God , did they really used to eat that crap in those days .Try & eat small amounts through out the day & if possible try & start the day with a large hi fibre b/fast.One thing I bought that is really useful is a juice extractor ,you can get most of the vitamins of say carrots but leave a lot of the calories behind in the pith .I hope some of this advice helps some would be CR's . If you have any advice for me you can mail me at email@example.com .
Are there any CR studies being done in Los Angeles? I'd be interested in talking to them. Feb 04
After a discussion with a cardiovasular nurse about alcohol consupmtion and the increase in body tempature, she shared with me that women had the higher risk of heart disease. Could you please explain the increase in body tempature relating to alcohol consupmtion (even small levels of consupmtion) and the possible effects to the heart and/or other organs? I have noticed this increasing and have tried to research it on the web with NO information available. Any information would be appreciated.
If people took CR seriously, there is no reason why a few years of research could not produce a range of foods which were filling and satisfying (and, just possibly, tasty), but with extremely low caloric content. We've already done it for sugar. Of course, you'd have to be comfortable eating largely synthetic foods, but they're a lot safer than most of the "natural" stuff we eat.