Some calorie restriction diets have encouraged the idea that cutting food intake would extend life span. A new study comes to dismiss that theory, as data showed calorie restriction doesn’t extend life span at all.
Before dismissing all your limitations and throwing yourself in the fridge eating everything you want as much as you want, remember the study was not performed on people. Scientists studied rhesus monkeys, genetically very close to humans, for 25 years and found that calorie restriction does nothing for the life span.
In fact, monkeys kept on calorie restriction as well as those eating normally presented the same rates of death by cancer and heart disease. Lab tests showed however a difference when it came to cholesterol and sugar levels in blood. Male monkeys that ate 30 percent fewer calories as “seniors” had lower levels of cholesterol and blood sugar, but female monkeys didn’t present any change nor young or middle-aged monkeys on calorie restriction.
“One thing that’s becoming clear is that calorie restriction is not a Holy Grail for extending the life span of everything that walks on earth” said lead author Rafael de Cabo.
The study on the effects of calorie restriction began in 1987. The hope was that the study would enforce many of today’s calorie limitation based diets as well as pharmaceutical products. Unfortunately for this wealthy industry, the study showed that starving yourself doesn’t mean you will live longer.
Scientists can’t even tell for sure if there are any actual health benefits to restraining yourself to eating fewer calories. However when your calorie restriction is asserted professionally based on your genetic makeup and a personalized diet, some people might benefit from a reduction of their heart disease risk.
Bryan Delaney, president of Calorie Restriction Society International, explains that people using low-calorie diets “see their blood pressure go down, their fasting glucose go down, their cholesterol go down”. The organization has apparently 500 members who believe calorie restriction is the secret to living “youthfully into their 70s, 80s and even 90s”.
However, scientists noticed that excessive calorie restriction lead in monkeys to serious health problems such as boosting the incidence of cardiovascular disease.