Importance of Undereating:
Scientific Evidence for Calorie Restriction and Youthing
by Dr. Gabriel Cousens Patagonia, AZ
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
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 1930s, 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 60s 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 doesnt 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. Spindlers 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, Spindlers 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 livers 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 authors 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.