Ask the Diet Doctor: Does Calorie Restriction Affect Aging?

Rumor has it how many calories you eat a day can influence the aging process. But is it true? Our nutrition expert weighs in


Q: I've heard that restricting calories can slow aging. Is that true?

A: The short answer: Restricting calories may slow aging, but there are less restrictive, more proactive strategies you might want to try first.

Here's the long answer. Long-term calorie restriction has been purported as the key to increasing your lifespan for a while. That's because research in animals shows that restricting calories leads to longer lives-sometimes increases up to 65 percent. But we're not mice, and not everything that has been shown to improve health in animals has the same effect in humans. Even more: There's no good evidence to suggest that chronic calorie restriction will actually lengthen human life in a meaningful way. Meaningful is the key word here: If you ate 25 percent less calories than your body needs, you could wind up living six months longer-but that choice could also cause you to live with a colder than normal body temperature, reduced metabolic rate, and potentially reduced libido. (Find out how to Indulge with Food the Smart Way.)

My alternative suggestion? These three non-restrictive, proactive strategies that are proven to slow the aging process.

Daily Meditation

Consider this: Sitting and trying not to think about anything is one of the most powerful ways to enhance brain health, grow your brain's size, and target chronic stress and cognitive decline (which impact aging). In that sense, sitting and breathing may be one of the best things that you can do to increase your lifespan. Aim to take 10 to 20 minutes each day to put down your phone, close your laptop, and count your breaths. (First, learn The Proper Way to Breathe.)

Daily Exercise

Exercise is a potent anti-aging tonic for your brain. Regular low- and high-intensity exercise has positive effects on the release of neurotransmitters and growth factors that foster a young and healthy brain.

Fish Oil Supplements

A fish oil supplement isn't only good for your heart and skin, but it may help slow the rate in which your chromosomes age (a marker of biological aging). Research shows that high consumption of EPA/DHA, the fats found in fish oil, can strengthen the protective caps found on chromosomes slowing their degradation overtime. Here, The Best Tasting Fish Oil Supplements.

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