In a new study of rhesus monkeys that were fed 30% less calories, but with the same nutrients as a regular diet, scientists found no benefits for longevity. Calorie restriction diets have been long thought to promote longevity and studies in rats have shown a 40% increase in life expectancy. Currently there are human studies to test the effectiveness and safety of calorie restriction in people. There was also a study done that reduced food consumption in people by 300 – 500 calories a day with some evidence that calorie restriction in people was beneficial. Although I would argue that reducing intake by 300 – 500 calories a day for most people would not be restrictive. The animal studies restrict calories by 30-50% which is harder to do with people – they can always get more food.
However, there are benefits with calorie restriction that may decrease some health risk factors which indirectly lead to a longer, healthier life. Calorie restriction has been shown to boost your immune system response, calorie restriction has been shown to reduce pancreatic lesions that lead to cancer as obesity is a known risk factor for pancreatic cancer. There is also proof that a reduced calorie diet and exercise will reduce a postmenopausal woman’s chances of risk of breast cancer. A low calorie diet has also been shown to impair the development of precancerous growths in skin cancer by reducing the activation of signaling pathways that turn on the cancer growth. Cancer Research UK states “more than 4 out of 10 cancers could be prevented by lifestyle change” with being overweight only 2nd to smoking as the most important preventable risk factor for cancer.
The current consensus about calorie restriction seems to be that you may not live longer on a calorie restricted diet, but you will be healthier with fewer risks from many lifestyle diseases.
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