Sound like a crackpot idea or just too good to be true ? Well think again. It seems that eating less than you actually need each day can actually add years to your life. Well, that’s what the current research suggests anyway. Let me explain.
A Calorie Restrictive Diet
We are talking about a calorie restrictive diet here.
Perhaps you have heard about it before.
Or maybe you heard a story about some old hermit guy who lived to a ripe old age because he consumed a frugal diet of bread and water all his days.
Where ever you heard about the calorie restrictive diet, here’s how it’s believed to work.
A calorie restrictive diet works at a cellular level.
When the body is consuming a little less than it actually needs each day, this sends out a signal to the cells in the body. This signal is sent out to genes that produce a protein called Sirtuin (or Sir2).
Sirtuin is thought to have a direct affect on various aspects of a cells life cycle.
For instance, it helps the mitochondria be more efficient in energy production.
It helps with the biogenesis (or duplication) of mitochondria DNA.
It is implicated in apoptosis (cellular suicide) and stress resistance in cells.
It does this by influencing another protein called histones. Histones wrap a cells DNA, packing it tightly together. The increase in Sirtuin causes histones to pack the DNA even tighter. This is thought to slow the way the chromosomes are reproduced and reduce any errors made during the reproduction process.
Chromosome reproduction keeps the cells young or if reproduction can’t occur the cell dies allowing younger cells to take over.
An important note on the Calorie restrictive diet is that you are not eating less nutritious foods, simply less calories. This is important as the body cannot benefit, and ultimately not live as long, if it doesn’t get the nutrients that it needs.
Consuming red wine (well, the resveratol that is found in the red skin of grapes in fact) can also trigger sirtuin production so why not drink red wine instead of calorie restriction ? Common anti-aging advice does recommend taking resveratol but calorie restriction is a more natural way. Calorie restriction will ensure your body gets the most out of the food you consume which is ultimately better for the body. It will also keep you lean.
For instance, the work required by cells to turn glucose from food into energy is far more “dirty” than it is if it creates energy from fat cells within the body. This dirty work creates more free radical damage that damages the cells, organs and the entire body.
So calorie restriction is a cleaner way to trigger the sirtuin response and healthier all round.
Serious advocates of the calorie restrictive diet advise reducing your intake by as much as 25%. This could prove difficult for most people, especially if you don’t have the time to consider what you are eating all the time. Current research suggests that even a 15% reduction will give you just as much benefit in terms of longevity.
A Faster Way To Live Longer ?
The whole idea of eating less to live longer is being researched more and more, mainly in mice, and the signs are encouraging. On a similar topic, research suggests that fasting is another way to live longer.
Fasting is probably more difficult to do than simply cutting down on your daily intake. It can vary depending on how committed you are to a program.
Some people have a day on, day off eating regimen whilst other may go with a 5 days eating to 2 days fasting. The fasting part actually seems to be a calorie restricted day. You can still consume beverages and some food but you really cut back on the calorie intake.
It seems like a difficult thing to do initially but there seem to be real benefits in eating less or fasting as a way to live longer.