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Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Calorie Restriction and Life Expectancy

Eating fewer calories and the effect it has on our health and longevity is not a new science. I recall several years ago (20 maybe??) reading about a biosphere experiment somewhere in the warmer climes of the USA where several scientists lived together in a self-sustaining, fully-enclosed dome. I recall they ran into several problems (or lessons) with food production, climate, the agriculture, etc. The experience, may not have succeeded exactly as they had hoped for, but must have provided much new information. One of the scientists involved in this biosphere was also a big proponent of calorie restricted eating.Hence I stopped on the above site a couple of times. (Click on title to be redirected.)

No doubt it was my discomfort at seeing the two rhesus monkeys in a lab setting that made me skip by the site the first time. But I came back to it to look a little further into the story. Before I go on, you might wonder if I condone or encourage animal testing for medical research. This is not a black and white issue for me but I hope in the future, we can move from a symptom based health care system to a preventative health care system, this might alleviate much or even all, of the need for animal based experiments. Educate people so that they can prevent illness, rather than waiting for them to get sick and then treat the disease.

The story that comes with the picture is that these monkeys are at a ripe old age. However, one is aging typically as we do in our western culture and the other is maintaining a somewhat youthful level. The scientist is claiming it is the calorie restricted diet that is the key.

You will also notice the images under each monkey of human food - the one on the left of the screen is totally vegan and the dishes on the right, a typical western fare.

When I visited the home site, the scientist is actually following a calorie restricted diet himself. I can pack a fair amount of food into my little bio system throughout the day, but I don't think I overeat...maybe I do. If I was to follow a restricted diet, taking in fewer calories than I presently do now, I wonder how that would feel. How long do I want to live? Depends on quality of life I suppose....does keeping rhesus monkeys locked up in pens to live out their lives for this purpose make any sense? The people involved in this research would have much to say about the pros vs cons of this type of work....

But I really question why and to what end does this help humanity, not to mention the subjects involved.

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3 comments:

Matthew said...

It helps humanity by understanding whether calorie restriction and its future mimetics will help prevent and treat age related diseases such as; Cancer, Heat disease, Diabets, Alzheimers, Parkinsons, Diabets, Autoimmune conditions such as Lupus and MS. Arthritis, allergic and immune system problems etc..

CR is the most promising way to extend life span, I have been doing it for quite a few yeras now, please feel free to check out my blog any time. I have lots of good stuff on it about CR and links and videos etc... Hope you take a look.

Matthew said...

I've also posted a lot of different comparison pictures on the thread here
http://www.imminst.org/forum/index.php?showtopic=15167

looking good to me ;)

Compassionate Consumption said...

Thank you Matthew for your comments; I appreciate your explanation and feedback.
Kind regards,
Michele
P.S. I will certainly visit your blog - I am very curious.