How to put "a suit of armor"
on your health
I've talked a lot about the secret to long life. It's really very simple. All you have to do is restrict how many calories you eat. This is tough for some people to do. And some people think they're too old for it to make any difference. But new research is showing that it might never be too late to benefit.

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This new research came out in the prestigious Science magazine. So it made some heads turn. It certainly caught my attention. The researchers conducting this study were looking to confirm that calorie restriction does increase life span. But the researchers were taken aback by specific findings.

Previously they believed calorie restriction needed to be life-long in order to experience the benefits. However, they found that the life-prolonging effect of dieting kicks in within 48 hours, at least in the fruit fly. It didn't matter if they started early in life or late. Flies that dieted for the first time in mid-life lived the same length of time as flies that had dieted all their lives.

Huber Warner, who directs the National Institute on Aging said it is as if the dieting flies "put on a suit of armor.... They seem to have achieved some sort of invulnerability." James Vaupel of the Max Planck Institute for Demography in Rostock Germany said, "We've known for a long time that dietary restriction increases survival. What we haven't known is that it's never too late." 

The researchers noted their new findings are consistent with previous studies on aging.  Rodents, for example, live about 40% longer on calorie restricted diets, and it does not matter whether the restriction starts in early life or later.

There was one caveat to their study. The effect also was immediately reversible. Flies that went back to eating to their heart's content were the same two days later as flies that had never dieted.

This is more confirmation of the recommendations you have read here. There is no doubt that the safest and most effective means to extend your life span is cutting calories. I've also told you that protein restriction - a maximum of 35 grams daily - might accomplish the same. But the most important calories you should restrict are sugars and simple carbs.

All of these studies indicate that there may be far more reaching beneficial effects on your body from calorie restriction than just the beneficial effects of lowering insulin, the aging hormone. The body seems to go into a strong protective mode. And the best news is that the benefits begin as soon as you start!

So never think that you're too old to experience the benefits of restricting calories. If you just can't do it, make sure you get most of your calories from fruits and vegetables. You can eat these to your heart's content and experience the same type of benefit as eating fewer calories.

REF: Science, September 19, 2003; Santa Rosa Press Democrat September 19, 2003.

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