Read the current Defeat Diabetes® E-Lerts™ Newsletter

This website is certified by Health On the Net Foundation. Click to verify.
This site complies with the HONcode standard for trustworthy health information:
verify here.

Defeat Diabetes
150 153rd Ave,
Suite 300

Madeira Beach, FL 33708

Low-Calorie Diet May Lengthen Life And Prevent Diabetes

Posted: Thursday, April 29, 2004

Regimen Reduces Risk of Diseases Associated With Aging

A small group of people who are drastically restricting how much they eat in the hope of slowing the aging process have produced the strongest support yet for the tantalizing theory that very low-calorie diets can extend the human lifespan.

The first study of people who voluntarily imposed draconian diets on themselves found that their cholesterol levels, blood pressure and other major risk factors for heart disease -- the biggest killer -- plummeted, along with risk factors for diabetes and possibly other leading causes of death such as cancer and Alzheimer's.

"These people are definitely protected against the major killers," said John O. Holloszy of Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis, who led the study. "It should definitely increase longevity."

While it has long been known that eating well and staying trim helps people live healthier lives and avoid dying prematurely, evidence has been accumulating that following extremely low-calorie diets for many years may do something more -- significantly extend longevity beyond current norms.

Lab rats, mice and other creatures live much longer when fed very low-calorie diets, and some researchers suggest the same Fountain of Youth effects may hold true for people, perhaps by cutting the body's production of harmful atoms or molecules known as free radicals. But aside from a few corroborating clues from historical records of famines, the only evidence from humans came in 1991, when eight subjects in the sealed Biosphere laboratory in the Arizona desert unintentionally tested the theory when their food ran short. Their health appeared to improve markedly, according to a number of measures.

The new study found "profound and sustained beneficial effects" in 18 people from the United States and Canada who had been eating very low calorie diets for three to 15 years, the researchers wrote in a paper being published in the April 27 issue of the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. While far from proving the theory, the findings provide the strongest direct evidence yet in people, several experts said.

Those on low-calorie diets had much lower levels of "bad" cholesterol, much higher levels of "good" cholesterol, lower levels of triglycerides and very low blood pressure. Tests of their arteries showed they looked more like those of children than middle-age adults.

In addition, their blood sugar levels were very low and their body's response to insulin was extremely high, indicating they were at very low risk for diabetes.

"It's very clear from these findings that calorie restriction has a powerful protective effect against diseases associated with aging," Holloszy said. "We don't know how long each individual actually will end up living, but they certainly have a much longer life expectancy on average because they're most likely not going to die from a heart attack, stroke or diabetes."

But at a time when the number of Americans who are overweight and obese is soaring despite intensive public health campaigns to get people not to overeat, the idea that large numbers would be willing or able to go even further is daunting, many experts said. If scientists prove the theory, however, they might be able to develop new drugs that harness the biological mechanisms at work or new, safer appetite suppressants that may help more people eat less, experts said.

The National Institutes of Health has launched pilot studies to determine whether it is practical to get healthy middle-age Americans to eat very low-calorie diets. If in fact it's shown to have beneficial effects, that might give more incentive to lower caloric intakes," said Evan Hadley, an associate director at the National Institute on Aging. "One of the things we're trying to find out is whether lower caloric intake may do things that exercise doesn't do. 

Source: Diabetes In

Join us on Facebook

Send your unopened, unexpired diabetes testing supplies to:

Defeat Diabetes Foundation
150 153rd Ave, Suite 300
Madeira Beach, FL 33708


DDF advertisement

 Friendly Banner

Friendly Banner
Analyze nutrition content by portion
DDF advertisement