Disease Proof

Cut Your Calories, Increase Your Life

From time to time news about calorie restriction (CR) hits the newswires—and for good reason—everything I’ve read about CR seems to imply that eating less food leads to a longer life. Even Dr. Fuhrman touches on it in Eat to Live. Have a look:
The evidence for increasing one’s life span through dietary restriction is enormous and irrefutable. Reduced caloric intake is the only experimental technique to consistently extend maximum life span. This has been shown in all species tested, from insects and fish to rats and cats.
Now, CR is a fascinating concept. In our society we associate well-fed—maybe even over-fed—with health, so the idea that strictly limiting our caloric intake is better for us, kind of flips the script—don’t you think? Julian Dibbell, a reporter for New York Magazine, found this out firsthand when he gave calorie a restriction a whirl this past October. Here’s some of his report:
It’s no secret. From mystics to anorexics, people who go for long periods without eating often report feeling more awake and energetic, even euphoric. It’s nice for a while, but even the calorie-restricted can get too much of it. When April started CR, she often went long stretches between meals and eventually decided something was a little off. “It makes you feel like you’re on drugs; I got too euphoric,” she says. “You know, thinking you’re in love when you’re not.” She switched to a more consistent, balanced eating schedule, came back down to Earth, and that, she says with a shrug, was that:

“It’s like, ‘Eat something! You’re not in love.’ ”
Again, very amazing, but, how about some proof? Sure, being told CR’s benefits is great, but what about a real-world example. Okay then, take a look at this. Late last year The New York Times shared with us the plight of two monkeys, Canto and Owen. Canto was enjoying a healthy life due to his calorie restrictive diet, and Owen—eating much more—was not so happy. Be sure to check out this graphic—priceless.

So, why all this talk about calorie restriction? Because The Diabetes Blog relays some new research linking calorie restriction to longevity. Here, it’s worth a read:
Researchers have found that persistent hunger promotes long life and identified a critical gene that specifically links calorie restriction (CR) to longevity. Genetic evidence has finally emerged in labs to explain the increased longevity in response to calorie restriction. This link was also identified between calorie restriction and aging. Of course this discovery immediately provoked the scientists to ponder the potential of the next generation of drugs to bestow the health benefits of calorie restriction without the discipline.

Fasting dates back as far as ancient Greek philosophers. Heck, even Mark Twain was a firm believer in fasting. In one of his essays he wrote, "A little starvation can really do more for the average sick man than can the best medicines and the best doctors. I do not mean a restricted diet; I mean total abstention from food for one or two days."
In my opinion, the evidence for this style of eating is overwhelming—I’ve even toyed with the idea of giving CR a try. And fasting? Well, Dr. Fuhrman has been talking about the benefits of fasting for years. From his book Fasting and Eating for Health:
Therapeutic fasting accelerates the healing process and allows the body to recover from serious disease in a dramatically short period of time. In my practice I have seen fasting eliminate lupus and arthritis, remove chronic skin conditions such as psoriasis and eczema, health the digestive tract in patients with ulcerative colitis and Crohn’s disease, and quickly eliminate cardiovascular diseases such as high blood pressure and angina. In these cases the recoveries were permanent: fasting enabled longtime disease suffers unchain themselves from their multiple toxic dugs and even eliminate the need for surgery, which was recommended to some of them as their only solution.
It’s funny, in this age of modern medicine. Many of us won’t try something as simple as eating less, but, we’ll pop a magic pill in a heartbeat.
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Keith - May 18, 2007 10:27 AM

I like the graphic. It's good to know that the human equivalent of monkey chow for breakfast is natto with garlic.

Natalie - February 26, 2012 5:20 PM

I wonder about this. I've been on the Eat To Live diet for awhile now and I actually stopped having my period, after losing maybe 15 lbs. I am now technically underweight, and while I still do feel pretty "high energy," I am worried about my health.

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