The secret to a long and healthy life? Eat less

Once and for all reducing your daily calorie intake, you can seriously change your life for the better, according to a number of scientific studies.

Let us imagine a scene from the distant future. Restaurant. A man and a woman on a first date. When I finally manage to cope with some nervousness, everything goes well.

The man says that he’s 33 years old, he still was not married and, apparently, not averse to finally have a family.

The woman is telling him her life story: she’s 52, she was married, divorced, and she has children who are over 20.

Man surprised: the woman does not look his age, and even younger.

Such scene — a dream for Julie Mattison of the U.S. National Institute of aging (NIA). As she suggests, there will come a time when the human biological clock will count not those years that is now called age.

Now it sounds unlikely, but thanks to advances in medicine and General improvement of the living conditions of humanity have already done quite a lot of steps to this goal.

For example, in 2014 in the United States, according to the statistical report (United States Health Interview Survey), 16% of Americans between the ages of 50 and 64 years every day suffered from chronic diseases. And just three decades ago the figure was 23%.

In other words, we not only live longer, but compared to the ancestors, healthier in the last phase of his life. Moreover, to achieve the latter would seem to be easier than trying to increase life expectancy.

So what we need to do to increase the duration and quality of life even more? Researchers around the world have differing ideas on this subject.

However, Mattison and her colleagues, the answer is: we need to make in your diet are very simple changes. According to them, the main thing — to reduce the amount of food on the plate, what scientists call a “limiting calories”.

The proposed diet is not merely a rejection of fatty foods or periods of austerity. We are talking about that gradually and gently to reduce the portions of food eaten usually and never to increase them.

Studies conducted since the early 1930s, showed that a decrease of 30% in the number of meals eaten each day leads to longer, more active life is true, worms, flies, rats, mice and monkeys.

In General, it is proved that in the animal Kingdom, the restriction in calories is the best cure for the devastating impact of age on the body. Perhaps the same could work in humans?

In Ancient Greece, Hippocrates being one of the first physicians who believed the disease a thing quite natural, we noticed that many diseases are associated with gluttony. The Greeks, who suffered from obesity, have died younger than lean the Greeks — it was obvious.

At the end of the XV century the feeble Venetian nobleman, Luigi Cornaro managed to do the seemingly impossible. If the indulgence is only harmful to health, it may be that asceticism is useful?

Cornaro, who was 40, began to eat only 350 grams of food per day (about 1000 calories according to current estimates). He ate bread, eggs and broth. Of meat he chose the veal, goat meat, beef, meat partridges, thrush and chicken. From the fishermen he used to buy fish from the local rivers.

Thus, limiting themselves only in quantity, but not variety food Cornaro, in his words, has achieved perfect health. He lived another 40 years.

Although at the end of his life he claimed that he was 98, I believe that he was 84 when he died — and this is a very impressive age for the XVI century, when 50-60-year-old was considered elderly.

In 1591, his grandson published a posthumous essay of his grandfather in three volumes under the title “debate on the sober life”, where the Cornaro insisted on the introduction of restrictions on calories in the daily lives of all people, to change the aging process and give the elderly in the later years the possibility to lead a full life for the benefit of society.

Experiments on the prolongation of life

Cornaro was, of course, interesting, but serious science is not enough his claims to come to the same conclusions. Even if he really felt very comfortable during those nearly 50 years, during which they restricted their eating (which is doubtful), it is just the story of one man.

In 1935, the fundamental study on white rats showed that food restrictions 30-50% led to prolongation of life and delay death from diseases associated with age.

Of course, what’s good for rats or any other laboratory animal, not necessarily work for humans.

Long term studies, people watching in the course of life, — a rarity. “It’s hard for me to imagine that someone will Fund such a program, says Mattison. Even if you start the study from the age of 40 or 50 years are still ahead 40 years”.

Besides, she adds, in our difficult arranged society it is practically impossible to exclude the influence of additional factors — exercise, Smoking, treatment, mental illness, etc.

So at the end of the 1980s it was decided to hold two independent long-term studies of the effect of the restriction in calories: one at the National Institute of aging, the other at the University of Wisconsin. As a Guinea was chosen as macaque-rhesus.

The fact that a person with these primates 93% of the total DNA. And we grow old very much like.

In rhesus monkeys, after they overcome the barrier of middle age (for them it is about 15 years), begins to stoop, the back, the skin and muscles begin to grow decrepit, and hair — graying. Moreover, as in humans, these primates the number of cases of cancer, diabetes and heart disease grows with age.

“They are an excellent model for the study of aging,” says Rosalyn Anderson, gerontologist from the University of Wisconsin.

Besides, they are easy to keep under control. For 76 rhesus monkeys at the University of Wisconsin and 121st in the NIA was developed diet. Feed them special biscuits, which primates get all they need nutrients and minerals. Half of the macaques included in the group limit, eat 30% less.

None of them are starving. For example, Sherman, 43-year-old male lab NIA. According to Mattison, since in 1987, 16-year-old Sherman “enrolled” in the group with a limited calorie intake (CR), he observed no signs or effects of hunger.

Sherman is the oldest of the rhesus monkeys that we know of. He’s already lived 20 years longer than the average live these primates in captivity. Younger primates got sick and died, and he seemed to be unaffected by ageing. 10 years ago (by age) could be attributed to the old monkeys, but now he does not look old — and behavior, and looks.

This is of course, in different degree, applies to other subjects in the laboratories of the National Institute of aging. “We have fewer cases of diabetes and cancer in the group with restriction in calories,” notes Mattison.

In 2009, researchers at the University of Wisconsin published a report with equally impressive results: their limited eating macaque looked younger than their peers, their hair was brown, not gray. Their bodies were healthier, without internal pathologies peculiar to the age.

Cases of cancer, e.g., adenocarcinoma — has been reduced by more than 50%. The risk of heart disease was also reduced by half.

© Muhammad Mahdi Karim Indian macaques

And while the monkeys who ate “all you want” (ad libitum), was ill with diabetes or have been in prediabetics condition, all primates from the group with restricted food blood showed no signs of diabetes.

Overall, in 20 years, only 13% of the monkeys in the CR group died for reasons related to their age. In the group “all you want” from such causes died 37% — almost three times more. In a more recent report, the University of Wisconsin from 2014, this percentage has not changed.

“We demonstrated on the example of primates that aging can be managed, says Anderson. And this means that aging in itself is an appropriate target for clinical intervention and medical care.”

In other words, if aging can delay, it applies to all the diseases associated with it.

Reducing the amount of food definitely had a positive impact on primates. However, to comply with such restrictions the person will be much more difficult. To begin with, high-calorie food traps of modern man everywhere. Besides for some people to gain weight — it is natural, as they are arranged.

“There is a big genetic component, and for some to stay thin is very difficult, says Anderson. We all know people who, without any kind of damage to your body can eat at once the whole cake. But there are others who have enough to eat cake — and have to buy jeans larger”.

It would be ideal if the number and the type of food we eat have been adapted to what we — with a genetic predisposition to gain weight, our metabolism and other physiological traits inherent in us.

However, a predisposition to obesity is not necessarily a sentence, it is rather an indication of how we stand in life. “Genetic history of my family says that I tend to pronote, says Susan Roberts, a scientist, a nutritionist from Boston University tufts. — So I used a flexible form of restriction in calories”.

“I’m trying to keep your BMI (body mass index) around the numbers 22. I calculated that I should eat 80% of the amount of food that I would consume if my BMI was 30, like the other members of my family”.

Roberts stresses that it’s easy — it helps to monitor their weight and not feel hungry the iDiet program. I wouldn’t have to comply with these restrictions if it was uncomfortable for me, she said.

Roberts knows about the benefits of the restriction in calories is not hearsay. More than 10 years, she headed the study, which abbreviated called Calerie (from the English. Comprehensive Assessment of Long-Term Effects of Reducing Intake of Energy “Comprehensive assessment of long-term effects of reduced energy consumption”. — Approx. transl.).

218 healthy men and women voraste from 21 to 50 years was for two years divided into two groups. The first was allowed to eat anything and as much as necessary — in short, to eat like they used to. In the second study participants ate 25% less than usual. Every six months, members of both groups investigated.

Of course, in contrast to the experiments with monkeys-monkeys, a time span of just two years can not show whether the restriction in the diet to reduce the number or slow down the arrival of diseases associated with age. However Calerie researched more, are also important — early signs of heart disease, cancer and diabetes.

Published in 2015, the results were very positive. In the blood of members of the group who ate less, the ratio between “good” and “bad” cholesterol is increased in favor of the former, the number of molecules, indicating the formation of a tumor (tumor necrosis factor, TNF. — Approx. transl.) decreased by 25%, and the level of insulin resistance, a sure sign of diabetes dropped by about 40% in comparison with indicators for the second control group where people were fed normally. In addition, the members of the first group had lower blood pressure.

I must admit that some of the above advantages could be associated with a reduction in weight, and earlier studies Calerie confirm this. “That is quite clear: in the long run to be overweight is bad for your health,” says Roberts.

Diseases that were previously associated exclusively with age, now find in people suffering from obesity.

However, the results of recent studies indicate that for owners of a slender body (with a BMI of between 18.5 and 25) the advantages of reducing the diet are very significant.

It is clear that more research is needed if we want to say something for sure. And if you decide to try it for yourself, first consult with your doctor.

Meanwhile, researchers working with primates, I hope that their macaque-rhesus will help to understand how food restrictions lead to such health outcomes.

For almost 30 years, scientists collect data about the life and death of 200 animals, about the state of their blood and tissues. This work, according to the National Institute of aging and the University of Wisconsin, sooner or later will shed light on how the restriction of calorie intake delays aging.

Does reducing the amount of food eaten to ensure that the metabolism works more effectively? Is there a molecular “switch” of the aging process? Or are there other mechanisms of life and death, which we do not even suspect?

Perhaps the answers to these questions, we will get soon. And the importance of what happens to these primates, as Sherman cannot be overestimated.

Although scientists still have a simple explanation, restriction of calorie intake may be one of the most promising directions in the study of how to improve our health and prolong life.

“From what we’ve seen, nothing indicates that people have a restriction in calories is not going to work,” emphasizes Roberts.

Unlike treatment with medication, this method has no long list of possible side effects and consequences.

“Our members do not feel hungry, the mood was a normal, sexual life is not deteriorated. We have quite carefully tried to find something bad, but not found,” — says Roberts.

You might expect that as a result of some weight loss slight reduction in the bone density, she says, but as a precaution, a voluntary study participants took a small dietary Supplement with calcium.

Roberts admits that despite promising results, the Calerie study is only the first of its kind.

“I don’t think any of us now can confidently say: OK, we recommend this to anyone, says Susan Roberts. — But the prospects are incredibly exciting. No one wants to live life with the disease. Can postpone the time of their occurrence and development is what we all want.”