The secret of lengthening your life.
While the pursuit for the proverbial Fountain of Youth is endless and characteristically unproductive, one method known to lengthen the human lifespan by up to eight years has in silence become accepted among leading researchers.
Health advocates have pointed to the major benefits of a little starvation, such as the resting of the heart and digestive systems, the cleansing of one’s blood, and as an overall general healer. Ben Franklin said, “To lengthen thy life, lessen thy meals.”
Although a little short of a "nip-and-tuck" will make you look younger, calorie restriction, is as close to a real Fountain of Youth as any known method comes. Scientists say it works, both by cutting risks for certain diseases and by allowing all body cells, somehow, to hang in there longer.
Research is still working to find out as to why exactly calorie restriction slows aging. But they're on the brink of a solid understanding. In a nutshell, it is thought to lower metabolic rate and cause the body to generate fewer damaging "free radicals."
People in the study who cut their daily calories by 15 percent for two years experienced two potentially beneficial effects compared with people who kept their regular diet: They had a slower metabolism, which is a sign that their bodies were using energy more efficiently, and less "oxidative stress," a process that can damage cells.
Dr. Luigi Fontana, a research professor of medicine at Washington University in St. Louis, described the work as "very nice study," and said the result prove that calorie restriction lowers metabolic rate in humans. Fontana, however, disagreed with the suggestion that a lower metabolic rate and reduced oxidative stress are responsible for the longer life spans tied to calorie restriction. He said some research show that changes in the way organisms' cells sense nutrients may be responsible.
The Sinatra Health Report, in his newsletter, Dr. Sinatra, writes:
Why would caloric restriction slow aging? It appears that actually boosts endocrine (i.e. hormone) regulation. In fact, the more balanced your hormone levels—from your pituitary, adrenal, and thyroid glands to your hypothalamus, pancreas, and gonads—the less oxidative stress you’ll have (oxidation is what oxygen does to iron, resulting in rust), and the more you’ll stabilize other cellular processes.
For instance, we know that imbalances in growth hormone and insulin accelerate aging, setting the stage for all kinds of systematic shifts, from weakened muscles to diabetes. Lower growth hormone or higher insulin levels lead to sub-optimal mitochondrial function. In other words, your cells’ tiny furnaces will burn more and more slowly and then eventually sputter and die if they’re overwhelmed by insulin or can’t get enough growth hormone.
So the goal is to promote hormone production, which you can do by fasting. Not only does fasting eliminate an incredible free radical load in the form of food, restricting caloric intake for 24 hours makes your body secrete more growth hormone, the precursor for numerous endocrine activities. And if your endocrine system is balanced, it jump-starts your whole immune system. [End of quote]
SKIPPING MEALS KEEPS RODENTS HEALTHY
Mattson's research group at The National Institutes of Health, the government agency that funds most medical research in the U.S. wrote that,
‘‘Fasting every other day may be as effective as a long-term "starvation diet" in extending lifespan’’
It is the most recent in a string of reports showing that intermittent fasting appears to keep brain and body younger and healthier. Such research challenges nutritional dogma that skipping breakfast and other meals is unhealthy.
Mattson's research group at the institute on aging has been investigating the effects of intermittent fasting on laboratory mice and rats -- science's approach to tests in humans.
Evidence of beneficial effects is so strong now that the institute is scripting a clinical trial in people, Mattson said.
"We don't know what will happen in humans, and right now we don't recommend that people try intermittent fasting," Mattson said. Sticking with regular meals is especially important for people with diabetes and other chronic health problems, he indicated.
Skipping meals once in a while might help you duck diabetes, brain disorders, even heart disease—at least, that’s what it does for rodents.
Two studies from the Institute shed more light on the effects of a calorie-restricted diet, an issue that has received increasing attention. Dr. Mattson, in his research, wanted to ascertain whether the health benefits were a result of fewer calories or a result of fasting. The results weigh in the favor of fasting.
In his study, one group of mice fasted every other day but was allowed to eat unlimited food on the intervening days, thereby making up for missed calories. A control group of mice fed freely. A third group was fed 30% fewer calories every day than the control group received.
The article continues:
Mice that skipped meals every other day had healthier insulin and blood sugar profiles -- which may protect against diabetes -- than those eating either normal or calorie-restricted diets. Brain cells of the intermittent-fasting mice were more resistant to damage in a region associated with Alzheimer's disease in humans.
One previous Institute of Aging study showed that lab rats that fasted every other day for six months had healthier blood pressure and lower heart rates than animals that ate freely.
Others showed that intermittent fasting protected brain cells of lab rats and mice against damage similar to that in strokes, Parkinson's disease and Huntington's disease (a rare, fatal genetic condition) in humans.
Mattson said an earlier study found that mice that fasted every other day had extended life spans and the new experiment found the mice also did better in factors involved in diabetes and nerve damage in the brain similar to Alzheimer’s disease.
In the new report, the researchers said both the fasting mice and those on a restricted diet had concentrations of blood sugar and insulin that were significantly lower than mice allowed to eat whenever they wanted. Indeed, insulin levels in the fasting mice were even a bit lower than the dieting ones. [End of quotes]
According to a study done by USC scientists at the University of California, fasting for three (72 hours) days can have a noteworthy improvement in your body’s health. The six-month study was done on both mice and human’s who were chemotherapy, noticed a noteworthy improvement in their health as the white blood cells and other toxins in the body were flushed out over the course of the fast.
The researchers say fasting “flips a regenerative switch” which prompts stem cells to create brand new white blood cells, basically rebuilding the entire immune system.
“When you starve, the system tries to save energy, and one of the things it can do to save energy is to recycle a lot of the immune cells that are not needed, especially those that may be damaged,” Longo said. “What we started noticing in both our human work and animal work is that the white blood cell count goes down with prolonged fasting. Then when you re-feed, the blood cells come back. So we started thinking, well, where does it come from?”
During each cycle of fasting, this depletion of white blood cells induces changes that trigger stem cell-based regeneration of new immune system cells.
“We are investigating the possibility that these effects are applicable to many different systems and organs, not just the immune system,” added Professor Longo. [End of quote]
Now you know.
The Sinatra Health Report newsletter
Mattson's research group