Perhaps the oldest anti-aging technique on record is eating less. Wise men have known this for centuries. The thing that has changed is that now modern science has tested this approach, measured its effect and even found out how it works.
When you eat less, you get a number of benefits:
- Body temperature drops
- Blood pressure lowers
- Cholesterol levels drop
- Cells divide at a slower rate
- The rate of glycation drops
- Free radical activity drops
- Inflammation lessens
Essentially what is happening is a form of hibernation. You are “living less,” thus adding years to your lifespan. The less food you eat, the less your metabolic system has to work.
Caloric restriction (CR) has scientific validation with an amazingly consistent track record that stretches back 80 years. We now have evidence in over 60 species of animals including humans and other primates that fewer calories slow aging by a number of simultaneous mechanisms.
CR slows aging by causing hormonal changes in your bloodstream. We now know there is a genetic pathway activated by CR, which protects you from the damage that causes aging. And, most incredibly, CR slows the shortening of the telomere, which is the master genetic control for your biological clock.
For example, multiple studies show that mice on CR diets live up to 60 percent longer (and behave like younger mice in every way) than mice on a normal diet. In human terms, that’s like living an extra 50 years!
CR also lowers the risk of many diseases of aging. These include cancer, heart disease, diabetes, osteoporosis and Alzheimer’s.
There are some drawbacks to CR. If you follow it closely, you will be hungry all the time. CR also requires a very long period to reap its benefits. CR is challenging and not for everyone. But that doesn’t mean you can’t benefit from what CR studies tell us.
If you don’t want to sentence yourself to a lifetime of hunger, how about a short fast? Periodic fasting is a safe and reliable way to slow the aging process and prevent disease. Studies show that animals that eat a regular diet while fasting for one day once a week live longer than mice that don’t.
When you fast, you melt fat for energy. Not only do you drop the excess weight, you get rid of all the toxins that your body stores in the excess fat. A new study shows this kind of fasting also reduces depression and improves your quality of life.1
Fasting also helps your body make human growth hormone, along with other anti-aging hormones. This helps you to better use protein to repair cells, tissues and organs.
Here are a few tips:
- Start with a simple 24-hour water fast. Don’t eat anything and drink plenty of clean water for a day. That’s it.
- The next day when you break your fast, don’t eat a lot right away. Start slowly. Small amounts of fresh vegetables are your best bet. You can also start with a low glycemic load fruit like a grapefruit.
- You can practice one-day fasts as often as every two weeks.
- You can work and exercise while fasting.
- If you have diabetes, kidney or liver disease, clear any fast with your doctor.
1 Teng, N.I., Shahar, S., Manaf, Z.A., et al, “Efficacy of fasting calorie restriction on quality of life among aging men,” Physiol Behav. Oct. 24, 2011;104(5):1059-64