Eat Less, Live Longer, Be Healthier

Living Longer and Healthier

Funding Aging Research

Eat Less. Live Longer. Be Healthier

posted on August 4, 2009

A twenty year study proves calorie restriction works in primates.

The ancients knew eating less was a path to health and longevity. Our grandparents™ generation knew it. But we forgot.

The average American consumes over 3000 calories a day now. It used to be around 2000. Two thirds of us are overweight. One third is obese. The average female™s waistline ballooned by almost two inches in the last decade. And for the first time in history, we are starting to die earlier! But not all of us.

Those who eat less are living longer. Those who practice caloric restriction (CR) rarely have arterial plaque, are almost immune from diabetes, hypertension, early heart disease and a host of other diseases and are resistant to cancer as well. A study of people practicing CR (average age 52) showed their average blood pressure was 103/63, most of their other biomarkers were about as good, and the thickness of their artery walls compared to that of teenagers. Finally, their cardiorespiratory endurance looked 17 years younger than normal.

CR means cutting calories by about 30% to about 1400 calories a day while ingesting nutritious food. But as you™ll see, there may be an easier way.

CR is the only proven method to extend the maximum life span in mammals. Humans live too long to be good longevity test subjects. However, first results are in from a primate CR study.

In a report published in the July 10, 2009 issue of Science, Professor Richard Weindruch and colleagues at the University of Wisconsin reveal that calorie restriction is indeed successful at improving survival and delaying disease in rhesus macaques, whose average life span is 27 years. "We have been able to show that caloric restriction can slow the aging process in a primate species," Dr Weindruch announced.

The study divided 76 macaques aged 7 to 14 to receive diets that allowed them to consume as much food as they wanted, or diets which contained 30 percent fewer calories than the unrestricted diets. Thirty of the animals began the diets in 1989 and 46 in 1994.

As of this year, 80 percent of the animals given restricted diets are alive, compared to half of the unrestricted animals. Cancer and cardiovascular disease incidence is over 50 percent lower in the calorie restricted animals, and impaired glucose regulation has not been observed. "So far, we've seen the complete prevention of diabetes," Dr Weindruch stated.

Additionally, brain volume, motor control, working memory and problem solving abilities appear to be better maintained in the restricted monkeys.

"The atrophy or loss of brain mass known to occur with aging is significantly attenuated in several regions of the brain," Dr. Weindruch added. "That's a completely new observation."

The current primate study's results are the best indicator to date that calorie restriction might be one means of allowing humans to live longer in better health.

Do you need to starve yourself to get some of these benefits? No. Spartan lifestyles cut into the quality of your life. But it™s surprisingly easy to get down to about 1800 calories a day. If everyone did that, we wouldn™t have the healthcare concerns we have today. Most people simply wouldn™t get sick. See chapter Five in Life Extension Express for helpful hints on lowering your caloric intake.

If that™s even too tough for you, there™s still hope. Researchers are working on CR mimetics, or drugs and maybe nutritionals that trick your body into thinking it is being caloric restricted. So one day, you may be able to have your cake and eat it too.

A new website makes your voice heard when it comes to healthcare policy. They send your opinions by regular mail and by email to your jurisdiction™s decision makers. Check out


Cellular Reprogramming to Repair the Retina (July 31 2009)
From ScienceDaily: "researchers were able to program bone marrow stem cells to repair damaged retinas in mice [which] implies that blood stem cells taken from bone marrow can be programmed to restore a variety of cells and tissues, including ones involved in cardiovascular disorders such as atherosclerosis and coronary artery disease. To our knowledge, this is the first report using targeted gene manipulation to specifically program an adult stem cell to become a new cell type. Although we used genes, we also suggest you can do the same thing with drugs - but ultimately you would not give the drugs to the patient, you would give the drugs to their cells. Take the cells out, activate certain chemical pathways, and put the cells back into the patient. Scientists describe how they used a virus carrying a gene that gently pushed cultured adult stem cells from mice toward a fate as retinal cells. Only after the stem cells were reintroduced into the mice did they completely transform into the desired type of vision cells, apparently taking environmental cues from the damaged retinas."

Health, Common Sense, and Anticipation of Progress (July 29 2009)
Don't expect science to rescue you from the consequences of neglecting your health. It might, but frankly that doesn't seem to be a bet worth taking: "Amazing advances in anti-aging technologies may be just around the corner, but it's highly unlikely that any magic pill that undoes all the consequences of an unhealthy lifestyle will be among them. People who want longer, healthier lives for themselves and their children shouldn't abandon common sense while they wait for a scientific miracle. Already, two-thirds of Americans are overweight. It seems as though many Americans are already acting as if medical cures to neutralize their bad habits are already available. Health-enhancing technology is advancing at rapid speeds. Aside from solid progress on caloric restriction, scientists are working on all sorts of projects that will no doubt extend life expectancy, such as growing new organs in the lab or fighting cancer with nano-drugs that target cancerous cells while leaving the healthy cells alone. The upside is that actual drugs based on these technologies seem closer to reality than ever before. The downside is that the possibilities these new technologies awaken sometimes entice people to throw away common sense, such as a healthy diet and at least a moderate exercise regimen."

Immune Therapies for Cancer Prevention (July 29 2009)
Here's a glimpse of the future of immune therapies for cancer. In years to come, researchers will have developed a vast library of biochemical signatures for precancerous tissue and very early cancerous growths. The immune system can be trained to attack those signs, thereby preventing known and catalogued forms of cancer from ever developing: "the new vaccine triggers the immune system to attack a faulty protein that's often abundant in colorectal cancer tissue and precancerous tissue. It works by spurring the body to manufacture antibodies against the abnormal version of a mucous protein called MUC1. While moderate amounts of the protein are found in the lining of normal intestines, high levels of a defective form of MUC1 are present in about half of advanced adenomas and the majority of colorectal cancers. The vaccine primes the immune system to monitor the gut for emerging cancers by teaching it to recognize abnormal MUC1. If an adenoma develops and begins to produce the faulty version of MUC1, the immune system will raise antibodies to attack and destroy the precancerous tissue. You would be using your immune system as a surveillance mechanism to prevent the development of malignancy."

Hair Regeneration Advances (July 28 2009)
Human nature being what it is, the application of cutting edge understanding of stem cells and cell signaling is as far advanced in the field of hair regrowth as in the field of heart regeneration. It's an ongoing demonstration of how we humans rank the relative values of being alive and looking good: "Histogen, Inc., a regenerative medicine company developing solutions based on the products of newborn fibroblasts grown under embryonic conditions, shared the results of the Company's preliminary clinical trial of Histogen's HSC human hair regrowth product for the first time. HSC is a proprietary formulation of naturally secreted embryonic proteins, growth factors and contains the first naturally stabilized, bioactive solution of Wnt proteins and their cofactors, which have been implicated in the induction of new hair follicle formation and growth. 84.6% of the patients receiving one injection of Histogen's serum-free HSC showed an increase in terminal hair 12 weeks post-injection, with a statistically significant increase in the number of terminal hairs, cumulative hair thickness density and hair thickness mean." It's a press release, so assume some padding - but still, this is the sort of control over tissue behavior researchers are attempting in other fields.

Convincing the Central Nervous System to Repair Itself (July 27 2009)
Researchers are working on the application of an interesting discovery: "Repair of the central nervous system and restoration of voluntary motor activity through axonal re-growth has long been considered impossible in mammals. [Researchers have] recently shown that an essential component interfering with regeneration was due to the activity of astrocytes, feeder cells that surround neurons. Astrocytes synthesize two particular proteins (glial fibrillary acidic protein (GFAP) and vimentin), which isolate the damaged neuron to prevent interference with the operation of the central nervous system. While the protection is initially useful, in the long run it induces formation of impermeable cicatricial tissue around the neuron, thus constituting impenetrable scarring hostile to axonal regeneration and hence to propagation of nervous impulses. In the event of severe injury, the scarring engenders motor paralysis. The researchers pursued a strategy aimed at developing a therapeutic instrument to block formation of cicatricial tissue. The researchers succeeded in controlling the reaction of astrocytes and when the latter were cultured with neurons, they promoted neuronal survival and triggered axonal growth."

Stem Cells in Every Implant and Medical Tool (July 27 2009)

Why not incorporate stem cells into every implant and medical tool that has prolonged contact with injured tissue? From ScienceDaily: "biomedical engineering students have demonstrated a practical way to embed a patient's own adult stem cells in the surgical thread that doctors use to repair serious orthopedic injuries such as ruptured tendons. The goal, the students said, is to enhance healing and reduce the likelihood of re-injury without changing the surgical procedure itself. The students have begun testing the stem cell“bearing sutures in an animal model, paving the way for possible human trials within about five years. The students believe this technology has great promise for the treatment of debilitating tendon, ligament and muscle injuries, often sports-related, that affect thousands of young and middle-aged adults annually. Using sutures that carry stems cells to the injury site would not change the way surgeons repair the injury, but we believe the stem cells will significantly speed up and improve the healing process. And because the stem cells will come from the patient, there should be no rejection problems."

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