EAT TO LIVE
By Polina Ivko
To quote Benjamin Franklin, “One should eat to live, not live to eat.” Since the beginning of time, human society searched for sources and ways of improving their longevity and quality of life. Do you recall the fountain of youth or recent hormone therapies? In the history of modern science there were many successful experiments done to test the effects of nutrition and diet on our health. The recent rave is about calorie restriction. This dietary regimen promises to improve lifespan, promote weight loss, boost body repair function and survival rate after a major trauma or disease.
The research on calorie restriction dates back to 1930s. Initially, the studies consisted of experiments on small animals under various nutritional conditions. For example, in 1982 Dr. Donald K. Ingram at the National Institute of Aging, Baltimore, Md., conducted a study in which mice fed every other day lived 82% longer than mice fed every day. Currently, Dr. Luigi Fontana at the Washington University School of Medicine is working with people who switched to a daily calorie restriction diet. It will take many years to get the true results, however, Dr. Fontana already observed some life improvements of the subjects and even calls them “new species.” He predicts that “calorie restricters” lifestyle will change how a human body works and ultimately result in better and longer life.
You may have heard of many stars, models and gurus talk not only about what they eat, but also about how much they eat. For instance, a supermodel mentioned in countless interviews that she eats at her stomach’s want, but gives the indulgences up for a few days before or after that. Also, Fauja Singh, marathon runner, is a living proof of calorie restriction benefits. The man is 101 years old who has been active all his life, never had a surgery, has no signs of heart disease and takes no medication. He believes that the secret is in his diet that consists of simple foods and half-portions. In other words, Singh eats half of the amount of calories a regular person consumes.
So, what is really happening in your body during fasting that makes you healthier? Scientists at the Whitehead Institute tied cell hyperactivity with mTORC1 (mechanistic target of rapamycin complex 1) which decreased production of ketone, a known sign of aging in mice. When you fast, your blood glucose and insulin levels decrease aiding in mTORC1 inhibition, hence, prolonging your life. Calorie restriction is an up and coming trend in the health and fitness world, that might not have enough scientific evidence yet, but is certainly worth your attention. Take a look around at your friends and family, evaluate their dietary lifestyle and make your own conclusions.