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 the 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.
The research on organisms ranging from roundworms to rats tell it all. When consuming anywhere from a quarter to half of their usual caloric intake, their quality of life improved accompanied by the benefit of living longer than their counterparts. But we aren’t rats so how does this translate to 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 that intermittent fasting can be potentially as 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 widely, from including vitamin and mineral supplements to modifying the amount of calories taken in per day which are often in the range of 700 to 1,100.
Positive results abound in research circles which encourage even further research. Results range from lowered cholesterol and weight loss however, all is not roses. There are some conditions that intermittent fasting or CR would not be advisable so best to pair up with a qualified health professional for more specific guidance.
Overall, it’s important to recognize the complex relationship between our caloric intake and our metabolic processes. For some, reducing calories may show benefits, but while science examines this option, one sure way to increase our longevity is by consuming balanced, healthy meals—start there, and you can’t go wrong.