Tony Vendryes: Eat less, live longer
Most people eat too much. Researchers who study the ageing process (gerontologists) have observed that eating less extends the lifespan of animals as long as they are provided with all the essential nutrients they need.
This technique is called caloric restriction and experts believe it can do the same thing for human beings. Food supplies us with two main elements: energy and nutrients. Calories measure the amount of energy in foods.
Caloric restriction is not a near-starvation diet, but a lifestyle plan for optimal nutrition while limiting calories. It is meant to give you many health benefits without hunger. The US-based Life Extension Foundation calls this technique 'Caloric Restriction with Optimal Nutrition' or CRON.
CRON involves reducing daily caloric intake by up to 30 per cent by limiting the consumption of high-calorie, low-nutrient foods such as white flour, refined sugar, and unhealthy fats. Vitamins and minerals supplements are added to the programme so that only calories, not nutrients are restricted.
Live longer: Scientists have doubled the lifespan of all kinds of animals - mammals, fish, birds, insects, etc. Research on humans are currently under way, but this, of course, has to be continued for decades to provide conclusive results. However, the many health benefits of CRON become very obvious after a few months.
Diabetes: Diabetes, obesity, high blood pressure, elevated blood glucose, high cholesterol and triglycerides rapidly improve once you are placed on CRON. As people age, their cells become resistant to the hormone insulin.
Thus, both insulin and glucose in the blood tend to rise when excess calories are consumed and the risk of type 2 diabetes increases. Within just one month of calorie restriction, glucose and insulin levels fall.
Cancers and growths: CRON increases the body's defences against free-radical damage, considered to be a major cause of many diseases like cancer as well as the ageing process itself. Experiments show that older animals on CRON have a greater resistance to cellular damage when compared to younger animals eating a regular diet. The anti-cancer effects of caloric restriction are now well known. Even non-cancerous growths like uterine fibroids diminish with CRON.
Keeping your caloric intake low over the long term can be very demanding, especially in a culture surrounded by an abundance of inexpensive, calorie-dense, nutrient-poor food. To live long healthy lives, we need a simple way to restrict calories without being hungry. Here are some guidelines.
Sweet, starchy, and fatty foods are calorie-rich foods. Avoid most of the modern 'fast foods'. These should only be occasional treats. Focus on healthy protein and high-fibre, water-rich foods that include fresh vegetables and not-so-sweet fruits.
Replace one or more regular meals with nutritional shakes. Modern food technology has created delicious meal-replacement protein shakes. High-quality shakes are designed to be very rich in nutrients and very low in calories.
Although there are now many shakes on the market and many people try to use their own recipes, few shakes are guanine meal-replacement shakes.
The FDA is very demanding in its requirements for a shake to be labelled meal replacement. Read the label on the shake you select. The meal-replacement shakes I use and recommend contain less than 200 calories each, while providing more nutrients than a 2,000-calorie regular meal. They are ideal anti-ageing meals and provide critically important dietary protein.
Supplement your meals and shakes with a high-quality multivitamin and mineral tablet and omega 3 fat capsules. Fibre supplements with water are helpful to increase your feeling of fullness and reduce your absorption of fats in your food.
Make water your standard beverage as water contains zero calories, helping to make your stomach feel full.
Other beverages should be herbal teas, vegetable juices, or coconut water.
Restricting your food consumption while improving your nutrition can lengthen your life and improve your health.
- You may email Dr Vendryes at email@example.com or listen to An Ounce of Prevention on POWER106FM on Fridays at 8:15 p.m. Details of his books and articles are available at www.tonyvendryes.com.