Live longer by eating better, not less

Even when an article title seems to endorse an idea we promote, you still have to look at the science.

Note: this is an educated commententary, not a full expanded response to this study.

Here is a study done by the CDC:

Live longer by eating better, not less

Tue 31 May 2005 03:17 pm CST
In April, the United States Centers for Disease Control and Prevention released a study challenging the conventional wisdom that eating less promotes longevity. Now, in a new study in the premier open access journal PLoS Biology, William Mair, Matthew Piper, and Linda Partridge show that flies can actually live longer without reducing calories by eating proportionally less yeast, supporting the notion that calorie-restriction-induced longevity may not be as universal as once thought.

Dietary restriction in Drosophila involves diluting the nutrients in the fly’s standard lab diet of yeast and sugar to a level known to maximize life span. Since both yeast (which contributes protein and fat) and sugar (carbohydrates) provide the same calories per gram, the authors could adjust nutrient composition without affecting the calorie count, allowing them to separate the effects of calories and nutrients. Reducing both nutrients increased the flies’ life spans, but yeast had a much greater effect: reducing yeast from control to dietary restriction levels increased median life span by over 60%. Forty-eight hours after being switched from normal diets to yeast-restricted diets, flies were no more likely to die than flies fed the yeast-restricted diet from the beginning. In contrast, those switched from the standard restriction diet to the sugar-restricted diet began to die at the same rate as flies on the control diet.

These results make a strong case that calories per se are not the salient factor in prolonging life – at least in fruit flies. The dramatic impact of reducing yeast suggests that protein or fat plays a greater role in fly longevity than sugar. This in turn suggests, the authors argue, that yeast and sugar trigger different metabolic pathways with different effects on life span.

Here’s how Joel Fuhrman MD, Medical Nutritional Advisor to, views this study. And keep in mind he would benefit from the title as well.

"My opinion is that this tells us that fruit flies should not eat yeast.  They did not compare flies who were fed healthfully and calorie restricted against flies who were allowed to eat as much as they want of the sugar mix (without yeast) So the study tells us nothing, besides fruit flies are not a good subject to test primate response on.  Even a mouse or a rat would have more validity."

Of course, theoretically I would say that if you eat better quality food vs. less (dieting), your likely to live longer, but keep in mind that when you eat better, you naturally eat less, given your nutrient needs are being served; so we don’t have to get absolute around this idea. The key is to understand the idea.

The Nutrient Rich Revolution message is not wholly about longevity either. There are ways of eating Nutrient Rich, like the messaging from Roy Walford, Author of the The Anti Aging Plan – The Nutrient Rich Low Calorie Way to of Eating for  longer Life, that address longevity in great depth. Mr Walford was the founder of Biosphere I & II and was an expert at this, even though he died at 85. Who knows the full story.

One thing we can be pretty sure of; you will likely live longer, when you don’t die unnecessarily younger from a poor diet and lifestyle. Nutrient Rich is about having quality of life, enjoying food, living at or near your ideal weight, free of disease and happy.

There is enough research, science and sound observation of healthy populations worldwide, who are long lived (centenarians) to support this conclusion.

Let’s just conclude it here, this way. Eat better and you’ll live longer. Do it in great tasting ways, and you’ll be even happier. Have a successful lifestyle in other areas as well, and your chances for longevity increase… it’s not all about the food! 

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