Tuesday, December 2, 2014

Calories restricted diets-Do they ensure good quality life also besides longevity?

Man's search for longevity is endless and no one has yet found the magic bullet that will ensure or guarantee a life at least up to 100 years. Among the most talked about regime to live long is the notorious Calorie Restriction diet (CR) being promoted by some segments of health experts  and many consumers seem to be convinced about its efficacy. But CR is not scientifically proved to be capable of extending one's life span without contracting some of the most debilitating diseases that afflict mankind to day. It is true that in animal experiments with short duration using Rhesus monkeys, supposed to be similar in their metabolic system to that of man, the longer life span was reported when CR was used but the same conclusion was also found to be untrue by other similar studies. Here is a critique on this subject which has far reaching implications either way. 

Caloric restriction, defined as reducing calorie intake by at least 30 percent, has gained a cult following since it was first studied in the 1930s. Scores of people swear that by dialing consumption way down, and eating far less, you can gain vitality and longevity. And while studies cited by the National Institutes of Health report that caloric restriction (often referred to as "CR") did have some positive effects on health in rhesus monkeys, the NIH announced in 2012 that it has not been shown to boost overall longevity. (These findings conflicted with those published in 2009, which found that caloric restriction did, in fact, extend life in monkeys.) The final word on these studies has yet to be published. But I don't believe we need to wait for it. If you want to live a longer, better life, portion control plays a role, sure— but the reason I'm not one for the CR diet is because I believe you should be far more focused on what's ON your plate, rather than what isn't. The danger inherent to the idea of caloric restriction is the belief that simply consuming less food is enough to fend off chronic disease and give you optimal health— without much concern for the food itself. If this were true, we'd all be able to eat cheeseburgers and french fries in smaller portions every day and call ourselves healthier. If you put emphasis on what you're not eating rather than what you are, you're missing the mark. A great example of what I mean is the popular diet program Weight Watchers and similar plans such as Nutrisystem, which completely flop in terms of nutritional benefits. They certainly restrict your daily caloric intake and you may lose weight, but with Weight Watchers, you could still end up eating a slice of pizza at each meal and stay within your allotted "points" for the day. You're still consuming a high-carbohydrate, low-nutrient diet— essentially an inflammatory diet— and this puts you at risk of all the top killers, including cancer, heart disease, and even Alzheimer's disease and dementia later in life. Eating a limited number of calories does not necessarily equal a health-promoting, life-extending diet.

The point raised by the above commentator about the inadequacy of many calorie restricted formulated diets with respect to some of the vital nutrients required by the body is very valid. No one can expect to lead a quality life by consuming 30% less calories ( about 1400 calories per day) if the diet is made of junk foods with empty nutrition. After all man does not live on calories alone and nutrients like proteins, essential fatty acids, vitamins and minerals are required at certain minimum levels to ward of ill health and infectious diseases. All said and done there is no effective substitute to living a disciplined life, eating a mixed diet that includes adequate calories, proteins, vitamins, minerals and fiber. Physical activity that moves the limbs and the body regularly besides other routine activity in life is a prerequisite for a good quality life. People must realize without delay the cardinal principle that there is no short cuts to maintain their health and they must go through the drill of adopting balanced diet and regular exercise day in and day out.


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