If we’re fortunate, we grow older, but how we age—according to research—is within our realm of control. Calorie Restriction, or CR, is one way researchers are looking to re-imagine human longevity. In the anti-aging research world, there is a history of studies that point toward CR as a relevant part of an effective way to increase one’s quality of life. In essence, restricting calories can offer us the opportunity to shift our focus away from fighting off age-related diseases, to a more proactive approach of addressing the primary factors that increase our susceptibility to disease and discomfort as we age.
Research on organisms ranging from roundworms to rats tell the story well; consuming anywhere from a quarter to half of their usual caloric intake reduces risk factors that often come with aging. But, what about humans?
In one study, researchers worked with a rhesus monkey of mid-adult age by reducing his caloric intake by 30 percent. He has lived nearly three decades since then, setting a life span record for the species. Other medical research shows intermittent fasting methods as potentially effective in minimizing age-related diseases and related risk factors.
Some gerontologists surmise that reducing calories for a set number of days each month, instead of every day, can trigger a regenerative recovery process from which the human body greatly benefits. Types of CR diets vary, depending on personal preference and ability to maintain adequate blood sugar levels. Typical caloric intake per day often range from 700 to 1,100 for just a few days.
It is vitally important to recognize the complex relationship between our caloric intake and our metabolic processes. For some, reducing calories may confer desirable benefits, but while science examines this option, the best way to increase our longevity is by consuming balanced, healthy meals. Start there, and you can’t go wrong!