Life Extension Update
Calorie restriction keeps its followers young at heart
In research published in the January 17 2006 issue of the Journal of the American College of Cardiology, Luigi Fontana MD, PhD, and colleagues at Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis, Missouri reported that individuals who have adopted a calorie restricted yet nutritionally balanced diet have the heart function of people much younger. "This is the first study to demonstrate that long-term calorie restriction with optimal nutrition has cardiac-specific effects that ameliorate age-associated declines in heart function," Dr Fontana announced.
"Our hypothesis is that low-grade, chronic inflammation is mediating primary aging," Dr Fontana submitted. "It's not the only factor, of course -- aging is a complex process. But we found less inflammation in these people -- less TNFa, C-reactive protein and TGFb -- as well as a more flexible ventricle in their hearts."
Claims that various nutritional interventions can extend life span are manifold, but some have greater credibility than others. Gerontologists agree that Caloric Restriction with Optimal Nutrition (CRON) offers the greatest likelihood of succeeding.
If people reduce their current caloric intake from 20-40%, even starting in middle age, they may prevent or delay the development of heart disease. Animals whose food intake was reduced by one-third showed less heart disease. The hearts of mice on a low-calorie diet showed 20% fewer age-related genetic changes and had less DNA damage (Parker, 2002). Recall the persuasive cardiovascular results obtained from the Biosphere II experiment: In the first 6 months body weight dropped 15%, blood sugar 20%, blood cholesterol 38%, and systolic/diastolic blood pressure dropped 30%/27% on a calorie-restricted diet (Walford, 1994; Best, 1995). A 30% reduction in caloric intake in 30 rhesus monkeys led to a 25-point elevation in HDL-2B and a 20-point decrease in triglycerides. Increases in HDL-2B and decreases in triglycerides of this magnitude in humans would be a great health benefit, especially for those at risk for stroke or heart disease (Verdery et al. 1997; Lane et al. 1999). Multiple studies have shown increased insulin sensitivity (four-fold) and decreased levels of insulin on calorie-restricted diets (Spindler 2001b), suggesting that hyperinsulinemia may be a risk factor associated with heart disease.
Until potent and practical medicines are found to enhance longevity, many useful natural options still offer significant benefits (alternatives that The Life Extension Foundation has recommended to members for decades). The Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA) reported that underfed animals (consuming 50% less food) live up to 50% longer, perhaps because of higher levels of dehydroepiandrosterone (DHEA), lower body temperature, and lower insulin levels (JAMA 2002).
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