In his book Eat to Live Dr. Fuhrman cites studies that show fewer calories can mean an increased life span. Recently The Wall Street Journal printed an article supporting calorie-restricting diets. Health Journal writer Tara Parker-Pope reports:
New research shows that calorie-restriction diets -- which cut calories by as much as 40% of your normal intake -- may help you live a longer life. Earlier this month, one of the first human studies of calorie restriction showed that people on the strict diet had younger hearts than normal-weight people on a typical Western diet.
While calorie restriction may not be practical or possible for everyone, there are still lessons to be learned. What is so surprising is that people who follow calorie-restriction diets in hopes of living longer are still eating a lot of food. They indulge in huge breakfasts and big dinners, but eat few or no snacks in between. The main difference in their diets compared with most people typically is in the nutritional quality of food they eat -- whole grains, fruits and vegetables and less animal protein and saturated fat. They avoid refined foods, sugary desserts, soft drinks and other sources of "empty" calories.
Researcher Luigi Fontana makes the key point about reducing calories in your diet: it's not about less food, it's about which food:
"It's not eating half a hamburger, half a bag of french fries and half a sugared beverage," notes Dr. Fontana.
Eat to Live explains all about low-calorie, nutrient-rich food like fruits, vegetables, legumes, seeds, and nuts is the key. Here are some of Dr. Fuhrman's findings from the book:
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. There are so many hundreds of studies.
Scientists have long known that mice that eat fewer calories live longer. Recent research has demonstrated the same effect in primates (i.e., you). A recent study published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences found that restricting calories by 30 percent significantly increased life span in monkeys. The experimental diet, while still providing adequate nourishment, slowed monkeys' metabolism and reduced their body temperatures, changes similar to those in the long-lived thin mice. Decreased levels of triglycerides and increased HDL (the good) cholesterol were also observed.1 Studies over the years, on many different species of animals, have confirmed that those animals that we fed less lived longest. In fact, allowing an animal to eat as much food as it desires can reduce its life span buy as much as half.
In the wide field of longevity of research there is only one finding that has held up over the years: eating less prolongs life, as long as nutrient intake is adequate. We all must recognize that if we are to reach the limit of human life span, we must not overeat high-calorie food. Eating empty-calorie food makes it impossible to achieve optimal health and maximize our genetic potential.
1. Verdery, R.B., D. K. Ingram, G. S. Roth, and M. A. Lane. 1997. Caloric restriction increases HDL2 levels in rhesus monkeys. Am. J. Physiol. 273 (4 pt.1): E714-19; Ramsey, J. J., E. B. Roecker, R. Weindruch, and J. W. Kemnitz, 1997. Energy expenditure of adult male rhesus monkeys during the first 30 months of dietary restriction. Am. J. Physiol. 272 (5 pt. 1): E907-07.