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The Importance of Undereating:
Scientific Evidence for Calorie Restriction and Youthing

by Dr. Gabriel Cousens • Patagonia, AZ

Maximum lifespan, as opposed to average lifespan, is a measure of who lives longest in any species. Maximum lifespan is the outer limit of lifespan potential. It leads us to an understanding of how to turn on youthing genes and actually reverse the aging process. It is not about simply achieving a normal healthy lifespan.

In the calorie-restriction research I will describe here, the animals which were put on calorie restriction were more youthful, vigorous, and energetic as compared to the others, and showed minimal to no chronic degenerative diseases. This turning on of the youthing genes and life extension seem to be possible to achieve in a variety of mammalian species. Therefore, it is reasonable to hypothesize that this effect happens in human beings as well. There is not a single instance in the history of medicine that such broad-spectrum effects in a variety of animals could not be shown to be similar in humans.

In the 1930’s, Dr. McKay of Cornell University found that the life-span of rats doubled when their food intake was halved. Not only did these calorie-restricted rats live longer, but they were also more healthy and youthful as compared to the control group rats. He found that his control rats, given the normal, eat-as-much-as-you-want diet, became weak and feeble while they lived out their normal lifespan, which was approximately thirty-two months (the equivalent of age 95 in human terms.) The calorie-restricted rats at thirty-two months were still alive, youthful and vigorous– one lived nearly —fty months, corresponding to age 150 in human terms. When this research was repeated in the ‘60’s at the Morris H. Ross Institute, the calorie-restricted rats lived approximately 180 years in human terms. Professor Huxley extended the lifespan of worms to nineteen times their average lifespan by periodically underfeeding them. Research has also shown that undereating increases the lifespan in fruit ?ies, water ?eas and trout.

One of the more interesting points about this research is that it shows that middle-aged mice on a calorie-restricted diet can get significant anti-aging results. In other words, it doesn’t matter at what age you start; you can still turn on the youthing gene expression.

Dr. Stephen R. Spindler, professor of biochemistry at the University of California, Riverside, found that 60 percent of the age-related changes in gene expression from calorie-restricted mice occurred just a few weeks after they started the calorie-restricted diet. This is a significant finding, because it indicates that even if it takes years for the full effects of calorie restriction to become expressed, the genetic profile for anti-aging develops quickly when you restrict the diet. Spindler found that calorie restriction specifically produced a genetic anti-aging pro—le and was able to reverse the majority of age-related degenerative changes that show up in gene expression.

Spindler noted that caloric restriction not only prevented deterioration or genetic change gradually over the lifespan of the animal, but actually reversed most of the aging changes in a short period of time. We have the full memory of all our gene expressions in all our chromosomes; all we have to do is push the right button to get a healthy expression. This —nding suggests (it is too soon to say, "proves") that calorie restriction could potentially reverse aging and improve and extend lifespan in older animals, and presumably, humans as well. Spindler’s research is perhaps the first to show that caloric restriction could actually turn on the youthing genes and literally reverse the aging process. In a recent interview in Life Extension Magazine he expressed the belief that if people lose ten pounds, regardless of what their weight before they start the diet, many of their physiological parameters of health will improve. He found what has already been stated: Weight loss improves insulin sensitivity, improves blood glucose, decreases blood insulin levels, decreases heart rate and improves blood pressure.

He also noted the potential anti-cancer effect. His research indicated that caloric restriction is pro-apoptotic, meaning it promotes the self-suicide of damaged or cancer-producing cells. Spindler, as well as others, feels that this pro-apoptotic effect is because calorie restriction lowers the amount of chaperone proteins, which creates more cell death, and particularly more cell death for dysfunctional, potentially cancerous or mutated cells. If one has a high chaperone level, which tends to occur with age, the cells are less apt to commit suicide, even though they tend to remain damaged or mutated and may be secreting harmful substances to the tissues or even becoming cancerous.

Spindler also found, particularly with older animals, an associated increase in gene expression that created an anti-in?ammation effect. The effect of inflammatory stress, as well as physiological stress, seems to happen more with age. He found that a significant amount of this in?ammatory gene expression and stressed gene expression diminished with calorie restriction.

In summary, Spindler’s results, as published in the proceedings of the National Academy of Science, basically showed:

• No matter what age you are, you still get an anti-aging effect with calorie restriction.

• Anti-aging effects can happen quickly on a low-calorie diet.

• Calorie restriction of only four weeks in mice seemed to partially restore the liver’s ability for metabolizing drugs and for detoxification.

• Calorie restriction seemed to quickly decrease the amount of inflammation and stress, even in older animals.

At this point in time, the only specific anti-aging effect that has been demonstrated repeatedly in all sorts of life systems is that calorie restriction consistently slows aging in all varieties of animals, including various mammalian species. Research has shown that not only does it result in a longer lifespan, but it also lowers blood pressure, reduces destructive auto-antibodies that attack the brain, reduces loss of central nervous system cells, strengthens the immune system, slows the overall aging process, lowers cholesterol, diminishes the rate of heart disease, reduces muscle oxygen loss, improves muscle function, reduces free radical damage to body tissue, helps stabilize blood sugar in adult-onset diabetes (and in the author’s clinical research even reverses Syndrome X), and helps the body run at peak metabolic efficiency.

Dr. Gabriel Cousens is an M.D., homeopathic physician, Diplomate in Ayurveda, family therapist and life-food nutritionist. He is also an internationally celebrated spiritual teacher, author and lecturer. He specializes in the healing of many chronic degenerative diseases. His books include Rainbow Green Live Food Cuisine, Conscious Eating, and Tachyon Energy: A New Paradigm in Holistic Healing, co-authored with David Wagner. See www.treeoflife.nu for more information.