There is no more sought-after dream than that of eternal life.
Since Ponce de Leon set foot in the new world — and well before that — we have been seeking the fountain of youth, the ability to live longer in good health. “We’re so close to adding another 20 to 50 years to the human lifespan, that not only are we in the neighborhood, we’re on the block; we’re just looking for the right door,” I was recently informed. The key to the house remains hidden.
For yeast, flies, and rodents however, it’s time to party! Scientists have long known that dramatically cutting calories extends their lives. (Who knew that yeast even ate?) Alas, since we do not cavort among baking additives, we have been left out of such advances. Yet, there is hope.
In a recent report, it was discovered that rhesus monkeys, arguably more our kin than yeast, that have been put on a low-calorie diet live longer and healthier lives. Researchers divided 38 monkeys into two groups. One group was put on a diet with 30 percent fewer calories than the other. After two decades, five of the monkeys on the restricted diet had died of normal age-related causes, compared with 14 monkeys on the normal diet. Beyond that, the monkeys on the restricted diet were healthier overall, with no diabetes, and fewer cases of cancer or cardiovascular disease.
“The monkeys on a normal diet also looked visibly older, their eyes more sunken in and their coats thinner and posture cramped when compared with their dieting counterparts,” according to Ricki J. Colman, lead author of the paper.
It is assumed that since monkeys and humans are genetic cousins, such diets might slow aging in people, too.
However, due to the long lifespan of people and the rigors of the diet, studies of calorie restriction in humans are ongoing and have yet to show that people live longer. Nonetheless, thousands of individuals now follow calorie restriction diets, hoping to discover what de Leon did not.
In the interest of understanding what life would be like on a calorie-restricted diet, I did some research and found a typical “day in the life.” Here, soup to nuts, is the purported menu required for a longer time on this planet. [Read more…]