The frugal way to fight aging

If you’re tired of spending wads of cash on anti-aging serums and supplements, I have good news…

There’s a simple way to stay healthy and youthful while also spending less money every time you visit the grocery store — cutback on calories.

I know the idea of counting and/or reducing your calorie intake sounds like cruel and unusual punishment, but hear me out…

Cutting calories has already been shown to reduce inflammation and increase your lifespan.

And now, based on a recent study, it seems skimping on a few calories here and there could also replace those expensive anti-aging creams and pill bottles you’ve got sitting around the house… not to mention take a bite out of your grocery bill.

If you’re thinking, “I’ve already heard about the anti-aging benefits of cutting calories, so what’s the big deal?” You’re right… at least in part.

A lot of scientific studies have demonstrated the anti-aging powers of calorie restriction. But the thing is, most of these scientific studies have been done on worms, flies and mice. This is the first time scientists have shown that calorie restriction slows biological aging in humans in a randomized study. So it’s a pretty big deal…

Less calories, means less biological aging

Researchers from Duke University found that reducing your calorie intake slows biological aging at the cellular level.

In their study, researchers examined data from a National Institute on Aging study where 220 people were randomly selected to restrict their calorie intake by 25 percent or to continue with their current diet.

Researchers then compared biological aging markers for both groups at the start of the National Institute on Aging study, one year later and two years later when the NIA study ended. Some of the measures they looked at included cardiovascular function, metabolic function, immune system function, and liver and kidney’s function.

At the beginning of the study, there was no difference between the biological age of the two groups. But by the end of the study, that had changed significantly…

In both the first and second year, the group cutting calories saw their biological age increase by .11 per year, while those who ate the same amount of calories as always saw it increase by .71 year.  That means the group that ate more aged nearly seven times quicker a year!

Now, researchers performed one other test to see how calorie restriction impacted the biological age of study participants. They took a biological age measurement from healthy people in their 20s and used this as a reference point for a youthful biological age.

Researchers found that, at the beginning of the study, both groups deviated the same amount from this youthful reference point. But at the one and two-year follow-ups, the group that restricted their calories began to grow more similar to the young, healthy 20-somethings. That means their biological age seemed to be going backward!

Sensible calorie cutting

If this latest research isn’t enough to make you consider cutting calories, I don’t know what is…

It’s pretty darn convincing!

Luckily, there are a lot of sensible and healthy ways to cut back on calories without getting too extreme and feeling weak, cranky and deprived all the time.

You can try intermittent fasting, which involves either restricting your eating to certain times of the day (like from 11 am to 7 pm) or setting aside certain days of the week for fasting (like fasting two days per week and eating normally the remaining five days). If intermittent fasting sounds like something you’d like to try, EHO contributor Craig Cooper provides great tips and instruction.

Or, if you want to try the same method as study participants, just cut your daily calorie intake. Even if you can’t manage a 25 percent reduction, cutting back by 10 to 15 percent is sure to have some anti-aging benefits. You can probably achieve that just by reducing your portion size a little bit at every meal, or passing on the box of bagels or donuts your coworker brings into the office.

Editor’s note: For more tips on maintaining a healthy, youthful body without extreme diets, dangerous pills or brutal workouts, check out Dr. Michael Cutler’s guide, The Part-Time Health Nut.

Sources:
  1. Study analysis shows cutting calories might slow biological aging. — MedicalXpress. Retrieved May 23, 2017.
  2. W. Belsky, et al. “Change in the Rate of Biological Aging in Response to Caloric Restriction: CALERIE Biobank Analysis.” — Journals of Gerontology, Series A: Biological Sciences and Medical Science, 2017.

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Jenny Smiechowski

By Jenny Smiechowski

Jenny Smiechowski is a Chicago-based freelance writer who specializes in health, nutrition and the environment. Her work has appeared in online and print publications like Chicagoland Gardening magazine, Organic Lifestyle Magazine, BetterLife Magazine, TheFix.com, Hybridcars.com and Seedstock.com.