It's a pretty good bet that a diet high in antioxidants, anti-inflammatory properties and Omega-3 fats will stack the odds in your favor when it comes to longevity. But, what about the amount of food you eat? Could that make a difference?
In 1982, some inventive research scientists decided to investigate the effect of a calorie-restricted diet on longevity and disease. They divided a few hundred male rats into two groups; one group was allowed to eat all the rat chow they desired and the other group was allowed to eat about two-thirds of what they would have normally consumed when left to their own devices.
The results set the stage for some of the most interesting anti-aging research of the past decade . Here's what happened to the rats -
The ones who received the normal diet lived their normal maximum life span of about 1,000 days usually dying from cancer, kidney disease or the deterioration of their hearts. That's a pretty typical story for a rat-nothing out of the ordinary.
However, rats fed the limited calorie diet were a whole different story. These rats lived 1 ,500 days on average, a whopping 50% percent increase in life span . Even better, they avoided much of what we would consider the accompaniments of aging-feebleness, low energy, sluggish behavior and grizzled appearance.
For example, their coats which normally turn gray after age two, stayed shiny and white for 3 and a half years and even longer! They performed better running mazes more successfully than their "normal eating" lab mates.Immune systems were stronger; their rates of diabetes and cancer were far lower and had fewer cataracts.
When they finally did die, most of them just expired.
Said Edward Masoro, Ph.D., a physiologist at the University of Texas Health Science Center in San Antonio, "When we look inside them, they are completely clean."
Calorie restriction, at least in rodents, was shown to be a demonstrable anti-aging strategy.
There have now been more than two thousand animal studies confirming these results across species as varied as yeast cells, fruit flies, monkeys and mice . Scientists have produced these dramatic effects hundreds of times under all sorts of laboratory conditions.
Because humans live much longer than, say, rats or fruit flies, and because of the ethical and practical considerations, there are no long-term definitive studies on calorie restriction and humans - nevertheless, some people are voluntarily practicing calorie restriction )
And here's the amazing part - those who do practice calorie restriction are showing the same effects as those seen in the animal studies-less disease, fewer "markers" of aging and much thinner bodies!