How cutting just a few calories helps you age slower

I have one friend that no matter how long it’s been since I’ve seen her, I’d swear she barely ages. Everyone knows that’s Gena.

She was home visiting a few weeks ago, so we got together with a few of our other girlfriends from our college days. And let me tell you, the difference in aging among us was dramatic.

While Gena not only looked great, she was as healthy as a 30-year-old… thin, energetic — and not on half the medications the rest of us were.

When everyone saw her again, they were determined to learn how she did it — how she stayed so fit, healthy, and yes — young.

Her answer?

“I take my vitamins, walk daily, drink plenty of water and don’t eat too much.”

Everyone just looked at her because it sounded too simple to be true. But, a new study is bearing out the truth in her words…

Anti-aging calorie restriction

The study known as CALERIE (Comprehensive Assessment of the Long-Term Effects of Reducing Intake of Energy) was the first randomized controlled trial to test the metabolic effects of calorie restriction on people who were NOT overweight.

But bigger still, it was one of the first trials using human subjects that put the effects of calorie restriction on aging to the test. Previous studies have shown that calorie restriction resulted in longer life spans for monkeys. The bigger winners, rats and worms, saw longer lifespans and acted younger than their counterparts in prior tests.

So, in the CALERIE study, healthy men and women were asked to cut their caloric intake by 15 percent over 2 years, versus a control group who made no diet changes. And the results were impressive…

Even this slight reduction in calories slowed aging and metabolism and protected against age-related disease. To top it off, those in the calorie restriction group lost an average of almost 20 pounds, even though they didn’t follow any particular diet. And, guess what, the calorie restriction also led to improvements in mood and quality of life itself.

That’s a lot of benefits for losing just 15 percent of your calories!

But how does it work?

Cutting calories decreases systemic oxidative stress. You see, oxidative stress results from free radicals, the byproducts of cell metabolism. Like oxygen rusts steel or air browns sliced fruit, free-radical damage occurs in your body through the natural process of metabolizing the oxygen you breathe.

According to lead author Leanne M. Redman, associate professor of Clinical Sciences at Pennington Biomedical Research in Baton Rouge, LA, “Restricting calories can slow your basal metabolism, and if by-products of metabolism accelerate aging processes, calorie restriction sustained over several years may help to decrease risk for chronic disease and prolong life.”

We live in exciting times! And there’s more the come… the CALERIE researchers plan to next examine the effects of calorie restriction in conjunction with antioxidant foods or substances like resveratrol, which mimic calorie restriction.

Time to cut calories and follow Gena’s advice

Clearly, not eating too much, as Gena put it — and the research shown — is the first step. If you’re ready to give it a try, here are some ideas to help you cut your calories by 15 percent:

  • Plan your meals ahead of time.
  • When you eat out, ask your waiter to bring only half your meal to the table. The other half can be brought in a to-go box. And tell him to ditch the roll.
  • If you snack several times a day, cut down and choose healthier snacks, like fruits and fresh vegetables.
  • Skip the coffee house drive-thru and get your caffeine fix at home (less sugar and calories).
  • Limit your food intake to an eight-hour window each day.

Besides cutting calories, my friend’s other advice for staying young and vibrant holds true as well…

Taking the right supplements can give you big gains in the anti-aging and longevity department, especially when you include ones like:

  • Fish oil – The omega-3 fatty acids found in fish oil have been shown to reduce inflammation and make your skin appear more youthful.
  • Antioxidants – Some foods, especially fruits, are high on the ORAC scale. That means they can elevate antioxidants and help prevent oxidative stress, thus lowering free radical cellular damage. If you don’t eat enough fruit, try a powdered drink mix.

And, finally be sure to drink enough pure, filtered water each day. It’s no secret that water is essential for hydrating all parts of your body, including your skin. Without it, your skin will look dull, lifeless and let’s just say it… old.

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  1. Calorie restriction trial in humans suggests benefits for age-related disease — Cell Press. (accessed April 10, 2018).
  2. Leanne M. Redman, Steven R. Smith, Jeffrey H. Burton, Corby K. Martin, Dora Il’yasova, Eric Ravussin. Metabolic Slowing and Reduced Oxidative Damage with Sustained Caloric Restriction Support the Rate of Living and Oxidative Damage Theories of Aging — Cell Metabolism, 2018
Virginia Tims-Lawson

By Virginia Tims-Lawson

Virginia Tims-Lawson has dedicated her life to researching and studying natural health after her mother had a stroke that left her blind in one eye at the age of 47, and her grandmother and two great uncles died from heart attacks. Spurred by her family history, Virginia’s passion to improve her and her family’s health through alternative practices, nutrients and supplements has become a mission she shares through her writing. She is founder of the nutritional supplement company Peak Pure & Natural®.