The only Science Backed Method to Extend a Healthy and Happy Life

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An older couple embracing each other in the park, promoting optimal health and functional nutrition.

The method to Extend a healthy and happy life is a dietary keyframe that is designed to be used in the treatment of anemia, aging, cancer and many other diseases. A great and healthy way for life longevity!

In my blog post, Fasting While Feasting: Harness The Healing Power of Fasting, I mentioned that fasting is one of the few things conventional and functional medicine can agree on unequivocally-almost anyway.

Whether it’s referred to as calorie restriction (CR) or dietary restriction, whether it takes the form of intermittent fasting, short-term fasting, extended fasting or alternate-day fasting, it has the science-backed possibility of extending not just lifespan but the all-important health span by 1-5 years.

I would assume one reason this is causing such excitement is that for the first time in decades, life expectancy has reached a plateau. Chronic disease may now outweigh modern improvements to healthcare and as pharmaceutical companies and much of medical research continue to focus on finding that “magic pill,” it might be right in your back pocket.

Ironically, early CR research results were so contrary to the beliefs at that time that they were looked upon as more of a curiosity than holding a real possibility for extending life. For 50 years doctors were hesitant to go public for fear of being called “one of those longevity quacks.”  What changed?

I think you’ll find it pretty interesting.

Longevity was a sidebar.

As early as 1917 research was looking at the possible effect food had on longevity as determined by growth, but the only way they had of doing this was through CR. The study divided the animals into two groups- determined by size, with life span used as an endpoint marker.  Animals in the smaller-sized group tended to die earlier, so the hypothesis was that stunted growth could lead to premature death.

Clive McCay and his colleagues at Cornell believed the study was flawed. McCay believed that the lack of proper nutrition ALONG with CR most likely caused metabolic problems beyond just limiting growth and was the reason for the premature death of the smaller test animals, thereby skewing the results.  

In order for life span to be an accurate marker and tie it to the retarded growth, animals needed the opportunity to live to old age.  He created a diet that he felt had all the nutrition needed to sustain life, but still had fewer calories than were needed to maintain weight, and in 1930 repeated the experiment.

As noteworthy as McCay’s results were regarding longevity, they were viewed as being an outlier and research continued to focus on how lack of nutrition retarded growth. 50 years passed before his method was recognized as a viable research model for aging.

 

Longevity was a sidebar

As early as 1917 research was looking at the possible effect food had on longevity as determined by growth, but the only way they had of doing this was through CR. The study divided the animals into two groups- determined by size, with life span used as an endpoint marker.  Animals in the smaller-sized group tended to die earlier, so the hypothesis was that stunted growth could lead to premature death.

Clive McCay and his colleagues at Cornell believed the study was flawed. McCay believed that the lack of proper nutrition ALONG with CR most likely caused metabolic problems beyond just limiting growth and was the reason for the premature death of the smaller test animals, thereby skewing the results.  

In order for life span to be an accurate marker and tie it to the retarded growth, animals needed the opportunity to live to old age.  He created a diet that he felt had all the nutrition needed to sustain life, but still had fewer calories than were needed to maintain weight, and in 1930 repeated the experiment.

As noteworthy as McCay’s results were regarding longevity, they were viewed as being an outlier and research continued to focus on how lack of nutrition retarded growth. 50 years passed before his method was recognized as a viable research model for aging.

Fifty years later

Although forms of intentional fasting have been around for centuries, its recent popularity can be greatly attributed to the renewed view of aging.

For a very long time, modern science has held on to the belief that aging is inevitable, and anyone who said otherwise was deemed a “quack” and ostracized from their profession.  But as research has gotten better at measuring and identifying physiological markers and how they relate to longevity, this belief is changing. It’s now generally accepted to view aging as being inevitable, but the speed or progression of aging is highly variable.

To support this view, aging has been divided into two categories: primary aging and secondary aging.  Primary aging involves the innate progression itself which nothing can be done about, while secondary aging involves all those extrinsic factors that can be influenced by diet and lifestyle.

The widely accepted “free radical theory of aging” is the idea that the more oxidative stress in the body, the faster the cells age, so the more a person does to reduce oxidative stress, the slower the cells will age and the longer, healthier life they will enjoy. 

The following stressors that cause physical decline are now referred to as the Seven Pillars of Aging:

    • Adaptation to stress
    • Inflammation
    • Metabolism
    • Macromolecular damage
    • Proteostasis
    • Epigenetic modification
    • Stem cells and regeneration

When the body accumulates free radicals, a crucial signal in cells and tissue induces pathways to restore balance to the challenged systems.  This adaptation to oxidative stress includes the stimulation of blood flow, increased mitochondrial function, and the good kind of inflammation.  It’s all designed to prevent chronic accumulation of oxidative damage.

As the body ages, oxidative stress increases in response to stressors at the same time the emergency response slows down leading to molecular, cellular, and systemic damage which includes tissue damage and chronic inflammation.

How does CR and different forms of fasting impact the Seven Pillars of Aging?

For ethical reasons, it’s difficult for science to conduct long-term, controlled CR research on human subjects.  However, there are some people who voluntarily choose a low-calorie, high-nutrient diet and when researchers have access, they find some pretty remarkable things. 

The CR Society

Dr. Valtor Longo is one of the more prominent researchers associated with fasting, and his 2018 book, The Longevity Diet: Discover the New Science Behind Stem Cell Activation and Regeneration to Slow Aging, Fight Disease, and Optimize Weight, has had an enormous impact on taking the idea to the general public.

Interestingly, Dr. Longo worked in the lab of CR pioneer Dr. Roy Walford at UCLA. Dr. Walford had been a crew member of the 1991 Biosphere 2, a research project that had originally been designed to observe what might happen should humans try to survive on another planet.

Having to live on only what they could grow themselves, as crops failed, the crew’s diet became more and more restricted.  By the time the decision was made to end the experiment early, they had been surviving on very little food for weeks and it was believed their health would be severely compromised. It turned out, for the most part, it was just the opposite.  

As a result Roy Walford started the CR Society, a group of free-living individuals who have voluntarily restricted energy intake for 3 -15 years.  They eat about 30% less than the average recommended calories, keeping it from 1112-1958 calories per day.

When compared to people eating the standard American diet, their secondary aging markers are remarkable.

They are:

  • significantly leaner with a lower body mass
  • Have lower systolic and diastolic blood pressure
  • lower fasting glucose & insulin, triglycerides, total cholesterol, and low-density lipoprotein
  • higher high-density lipoprotein
  • lower levels of systemic inflammation as per C-reactive protein, tumor necrosis factor, interleukin-6, and cortisol
  • up regulation of several autophagy genes
  • Their muscle biopsies show reduced inflammatory pathways
  • significant improvement of the circulatory system with left ventricular elasticity comparable to individuals 16 years younger
  • heart rate variability, reflective of improved autonomic nervous system functioning) comparable to that of individuals 20 years younger.
  • And to top it off, none of the CR society members studied to date reported any cardiovascular disease and showed less use of medications.

 So why isn’t everyone using a CR diet?

 

 The greatest challenge and risk of CR.

The greatest challenge most people face with long-term CR is maintaining it without support. 

The greatest risk is not having the proper balance of macro and micronutrients in the limited calories to ensure proper support of body systems. There is also a need to be cautious regarding the elderly or if you have health challenges that could put you at risk.

You should never start a fasting regime or CR without consulting your healthcare provider and I am not an advocate of long-term fasting or sustained CR without supervision.

A great way to get around the biggest risk and challenge of CR is through a program I’ve designed called Fasting While Feasting.  It’s a five-day program I personally guide at the beginning of each year that my clients and students can participate in for free.  They get the same results as fasting without the fear of not eating.

If you missed it, it’s still available as a self-guided program through my Empowered Self-Care Lab. The high-nutrient, low-calorie diet allows three satisfying and balanced meals a day which I’ve put together myself along with a guide and daily videos to help answer any questions you might have and provide daily support.

Every year I’m amazed by the results for both myself and the participants.

If you are curious, give it a try.  It’s both safe and effective and a great tool to use once each month if you are looking for a way to get back on the path to optimal health.

 Resources:

  1. Calorie Restriction and Aging in Humans – PMC
  2. Honoring Clive McCay and 75 Years of Calorie Restriction Research – PMC
  3. The Influence of Food upon Longevity – PMC
  4. THE EFFECT OF RETARDATION OF GROWTH UPON THE BREEDING PERIOD AND DURATION OF LIFE OF RATS – PubMed
  5. The Lost History of One of the World’s Strangest Science Experiments – The New York Times

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2 Comments

  1. Theresa

    Hello,

    I’ve scanned the info about “Dr. Ritamarie’s Empowered Self-Care Lab”.
    My question is, regardless of which pay plan we choose, will we have lifetime access to everything without continuing to pay?

    Reply
    • Christina

      Thank you for your interest in our Empowered Self Care Lab membership, Theresa.

      As long as monthly or annual payments remain in place, your access to the programs will remain available. We also invite you to download some of the content to your own device so you may access it offline.

      I hope that helps and you’ll be able to join us!

      Reply

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