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Caloric Restriction: Eat Less, Live Longer

Food is the web of life. We need food in the same way that a car needs petrol or fuel. Every day we need to eat, and there really are lots of reasons to eat – the taste, social engagements, your mother told you to, and of course, because you’re hungry. It doesn’t necessarily matter what your reasons are, the ultimate goal is to fuel up your body with energy and nutrients.

However, food, the very basis of life, has become our enemy. From the time of Hippocrates, it has been know that certain foods have disease-preventing and disease-healing benefits, but certain foods may cause or trigger the diseases if we overconsume it.

We are all in search of the perfect diet, a quick and easy way to help us look and feel better. As we get older, we need fewer calories or foods, but many of us carry on eating the same amount of food we always have. For a long time, medical researchers and scientists have known that eating less extends the lifespan of a variety of animals.

Experts in human ageing believe that it can do the same thing for mankind. Now, researches and scientists indicate that reducing the calorie intake could slow the ageing process, as well as the development of diseases such as Cardiovascular Disease (Hypertension, High Cholesterol, Heart Attack and others), Type 2 Diabetes and even Cancer. This strategy is referred to as Caloric Restriction or CR.

Caloric Restriction is not a near-starvation diet. It is a healthy lifestyle plan that is accompanied by weight loss, only occasional hunger, optimal nutrition, and many health benefits. Practising Calorie Restriction means reducing caloric intake by up to 30 per cent and greatly limiting the consumption of high-calorie, nutrient-poor foods such as white flour, refined sugar and bad fats.

For example, men consume 1,800 calories, rather than the recommended 2,500; women eat only 1,500 to 1,700 calories per day, compared with the recommended national average of 2,000. But that doesn’t mean they don’t eat well. Besides this, it is important that additional vitamins and minerals be added to any Caloric Restriction Programme to avoid any nutrient deficiency. Calorie-restriction dieting is about minimising calories and maximising nutrients. Only calories, not nutrients, should be limited.

A 2004 study published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences detailed the results of humans who have practiced the Calorie Restriction diet had lower Cardiovascular Disease risk factors such as obesity, high blood pressure, high cholesterol and triglycerides. As people age, their cells become resistant to insulin, a condition called insulin resistance. This causes blood levels of insulin and glucose to rise.

Elevated blood glucose and insulin are major risk factors for Type 2 Diabetes. A lowering of insulin and glucose can be observed even after one month of Calorie Restriction, even before any weight loss has occurred.

Now, researchers at the University of Gothenburg, Sweden, have pinpointed an enzyme, called Peroxiredoxin, which, when combined with Calorie Restriction, remains active, thereby increasing longevity, longevity is not increased when it is inactive. It appears the enzyme is pivotal in preventing age-related genetic damage. When the enzyme is inactive, it can lead to various genetic defects and diseases, including cancer.

Besides this, it has been shown to help prevent proteins within the body from becoming damaged which helps protect against diseases such as Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s. According to the new study, published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences journal, eating fewer calories activates the CREB1 Protein, which is known to play a key role in a variety of processes in the brain, including memory and learning. Because CREB1 is weakened as we grow older, triggering it by eating less could help slow down the mental ageing process, scientists believe.

Researchers from the Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis found that significantly limiting calories lowers core body temperature (the temperature at which all of the functions in the body can operate with maximum efficiency), which has been shown to prolong life. “The people doing calorie restriction had a lower average core body temperature by about 0.2 degrees Celsius, which sounds like a modest reduction but is statistically significant and similar to the reduction we have observed in long-lived, calorie-restricted mice,” principal investigator Dr. Luigi Fontana said in a news release from Washington University. Although restricting calories can double or even triple the lifespan of simple organisms, the researchers admitted it is not yet clear how much longer calorie restriction might help humans live.

And very obviously, we all pretty much know that in order to weigh less, we need to eat less with healthy balance diet. Whether you’re trying to lose weight or not, almost anyone can agree the potential benefit of living longer is a great plus to cutting a few calories! However, this isn’t always the easiest thing to do.

Here are a few helpful hints to trim your daily intake without going hungry.

1. Eat less. More often. Rather than eating large meals, chop up your eating into smaller portions throughout the day.

2. Check out your portions. Most restaurants serve almost double the recommended serving size of a dish, so ask to wrap up half your plate before you begin eating. You likely won’t miss it!

3. Eat more slowly. Studies show that people who eat faster weigh more than those who chew more slowly and pause between bites. Drinking a full glass of water before each meal can also help curb calories.

4. Eat less processed foods. More natural foods tend to fill you up better, as they often contain more fibre and healthier fats. Instead of potato chips, go for carrots. You’ll get the crunch and satiating tasty zing without the Trans Fats.

5. Eat vegetables before the main course. Whenever possible, make sure to have an ample serving of a vegetable (you get very few calories for the amount you eat) before eating the denser main course – often a meat or fish. You’ll need less of the dense stuff to be happy.

6. Kick the sugar habit. If you drink sugared soft drinks, replace them either with water. This can make a very, very big difference.

7. Reduce the amount of salty food and soup. A lot of salty food make you want to eat and drink even more. Besides this, salty food always cause water retention problem.

8. Cut out the alcohol. Full of empty calories, this may not be the most desirable part of your diet to cut, but likely the healthiest. If you do indulge, make it a once-a-week treat, not a daily event.

9. Drink more water during the day. Water always helps to burn off few calories.

10. Don’t eat right before going to bed. We should avoid late dinner or supper and eat before 7.30pm. Late dinner and supper always increase the calories.

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