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Live Leaner, Live Longer?

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Nutritionists are debating if a starvation diet, which can be as low as 40 percent below recommended calories, can contribute to longer life

Nutritionists are debating if a starvation diet, which can be as low as 40 percent below recommended calories, can contribute to longer life. Studies have shown that lifespan actually doubles in lab animals that have been fed a severely restricted calorie diet.

Researchers found that people who follow calorie-restricted diets had hearts in similar condition to those 15 years younger. Some scientists suggest that calorie-restricted diets may help fight off diseases associated with aging such as atherosclerosis and diabetes. Others believe that cell damage that occurs as a result of the aging process is reduced. The drawbacks of such a diet include irritability, susceptibility to infection, low libido, menstrual irregularities, and a lowered metabolic rate.

Yet others believe that severe caloric restrictions may not have significant payoff. John Phelan, UCLA evolutionary biologist, calculates a lifelong starvation diet would extend life by four to five years. He believes the hardship of such a diet is not worth the minimal gain in lifespan.

People starving for a longer life will have to decide if the long-term reduction in calories really makes them feel better.

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