According to scientists of United States an extreme low-calorie diet can dramatically reduce the risk of developing diabetes or the clogged arteries that cause heart attacks and strokes.
Diet regimes that restrict calorie intake to two thirds of recommended levels can slash decades from the cardiovascular "age" of their followers, the first study of their long-term health effects has revealed. The research suggests that such drastic calorie restriction, which was found to enhance the life expectancy of mice and rats by up to 30 per cent, can also prolong the human lifespan. While there is no concrete evidence that followers of such diets live longer than average, the research, at Washington University in St Louis, offers the strongest indication yet that this is likely to be so.
"It’s very clear from these findings that calorie restriction has a powerful, protective effect against diseases associated with ageing," said John Holloszy, Professor of Medicine at Washington University in St Louis. "We don’t know how long each individual actually will end up living, but they certainly have a much longer life expectancy than average because they’re most likely not going to die from a heart attack, stroke or diabetes," report timesonline.co.uk
The first study of people who voluntarily imposed draconian diets on themselves found that their cholesterol levels, blood pressure and other major risk factors for heart disease - the biggest killer - plummeted, along with risk factors for diabetes and possibly other leading causes of death such as cancer and Alzheimer's.
"These people are definitely protected against the major killers," said John O. Holloszy of Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis, who led the study, released online yesterday. "It should definitely increase longevity."
While it has long been known that eating well and staying trim helps people live healthier lives and avoid dying prematurely, evidence has been accumulating that following extremely low-calorie diets for many years may do something more - significantly extend longevity beyond current norms.
One of the members, Dean Pomerleau, 39, a computer engineer from Gibsonia, Pa., cut his daily caloric intake from about 3,000 calories a day to about 1,900 more than four years ago. Pomerleau eats a highly regimented diet that consists of the same two meals daily of nothing but fruits, vegetables and nuts, with a couple of cups of non-sweetened herb tea for snacks.
"I'm a very disciplined person, and food has never been a critical, driving force in my life. So I've never found it as difficult as many may have," Pomerleau said. "For many it is difficult, especially in the beginning. But what you find is that once you get into it it's not a hardship at all. We actually consider it a preferable way to live," inform washingtonpost.com
According to canada.com Fontana stressed in an interview that people should not go on a calorie-restrictive diet without supervision since it is critical - and not easy - to ensure that all nutrient requirements are met on such low-calorie diets.
He says most people could safely start down the road to healthier, longer living by eliminating empty calories - found in things like sweets, pop and junk food.
The study adds weight to mounting evidence that North Americans could also reduce the need for drugs now being used to combat heart disease and diabetes by eating healthier diets.