Eating Less May Help You Live Longer
It turns out that eating less might have more benefits than we originally believed. In fact, it just might help you live longer. A recent study published in the journal Science not only supports this claim, but also seems to indicate that cutting back on our food consumption (calorie restriction) has tangible benefits for our brains.
It has been observed in many other species of animals, including worms, flies, and mice, that eating less results in greater longevity. This has spawned books and entire movements of people who are reducing their diets in the hopes of slowing down the aging clock, but the question has always been, does it really work? Sure, enabling flies and worms to live longer is one thing, but how does that translate into human lives? And is it worth sacrificing our enjoyment of food?
Well, in the most convincing study to date, restricted diets in monkeys, a close relative to humans, did indeed increase their life spans and improve their health over a 20 year span. In the study, the caloric intake of rhesus monkey were reduced by 10% each month for three months, while other monkeys were allowed to eat all they wanted. Both sets of monkeys were fed very healthy diets.
What the researchers found was that only 13% of the monkeys whose diets were restricted died, compared to 37% of the monkeys who were allowed to eat their usual diet. The calorie restricted monkeys also maintained volume in regions of the brain that are believed to be responsible for memory, motor control, and problem solving, implying cognitive benefits, as well.
How we might add years to our lives through caloric restriction is not clearly understood, though it is a well known fact that eating less will reduce your risk for obesity, which predisposes people to whole host of disease, including diabetes, heart disease, and stroke. Furthermore, eating healthier, nutrient rich foods has tangible health benefits in the form of proper nutrition..
However, before you go and starve yourself, keep in mind that there is a critical distinction between calorie restriction and malnutrition. It is also important to keep in mind that active lifestyles require more fuel, i.e., food. So always practice common sense and be aware of what you’re putting into your body. Check out the dietary guidelines of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, and speak with a dietary expert or your physician about your options in order learn more about the food that you eat.
Whether or not you’ll actually live longer is yet to be seen, but at the very least, there’s a good chance that you will look and feel better.