Sunday, February 1, 2009

Calorie Restriction for Longevity and Health

Yesterday I did lots of reading on the 'net regarding the benefits of the Calorie Restriction Diet. Animal studies have shown routinely restricting calories leads to increases in longevity and to staving off illness of aging like Alzheimer's and diabetes.

I do believe a calorie restricted life is a healthier one. It is not the same as anorexia. Anorexics don't eat enough protein and glucose. Their bodies end up destroying their heart muscles, seeking the calories to convert enough energy to keep moving. CRD adherents meticulously track their nutrient intake to avoid that fate.

If there is one state people fear the most, its starvation, but CRD is promoted as the healthiest diet in the world, severally restricting calories, while focusing on optimal nutrition. CRD, however, is clearly not a "natural" lifestyle, in that, given free rein, most people will overeat. Most eating is unconscious, directed by external stimuli, and driven by primal forces. If its hard for the average person to stay on Weight Watchers, how do you stay on CRD?

I remember fasting as a teenager. Day One was agony, Day Two I felt euphoric and free. It was wonderful not to eat, made me wonder why I ever had, or would again. Day Three I woke up driven to devour a hard boiled egg. In the back of my mind I could hear mother nature scolding me, "You foolish girl! Eat or you will die!" I felt defeated. Mother Nature wants her girls to have enough fat to be fertile and able to carry a fetus to term. That's her priority, what does she care if you want to wear skinnier jeans?

So, the question for me is, how safe is it to go against nature and one's instinct to eat omnivorously? Is a longer, healthier life worth conquering the most unconscious drive in your body? I am not a teenage girl anymore, fasting on Diet Coke, compromising my fertility. I'm a middle aged (eek!) woman, seeking to preserve my brain and arteries and live a good life.

1 comment:

  1. I have also read research regarding restricting calories for health benefits. I am starting to think that the key is for me to eat less calories (which I'm doing by following weight watchers), but also by making sure that the foods I do eat are high in nutrients, liking eating more foods that are high in antioxidants to help keep my arteries healthy.
    Except, sometimes all I want to do is eat junk, lol!