LIFESTYLE

Dieting Monkeys Reveal That Low-Calorie Living May Be The Key To A Long Life

02/04/2014 10:56 BST | Updated 02/04/2014 11:59 BST
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Previously, studies have shown that calorie restriction (CR) has been found to delay ageing in worms and monkeys. Now, a US team says, they have found a strong link to suggest that it also works for monkeys.

The BBC reported Dr Rozalyn Anderson of the department of medicine at the University of Wisconsin-Madison as saying: "CR works to delay ageing in primate species. Our study data is consistent with that."

The team studied a group of rhesus monkeys for decades.

However, experts - including those who led the study - do not recommend the diet being applied to humans.

Dr Anderson said: "The concept is to delve into the biology of ageing and try to understand what's the basis for increased risk for diseases as you get older and with advanced age. It would be very difficult to implement CR in a long term way in humans."

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The BBC also quoted Dr Emma Williams, a nutrition scientist at the British Nutrition Foundation, as saying "caution was advised until results from human trials were available."

A US study is underway using human participants, but it may be some time before the results are out.

Followers of the diet (humans, not monkeys) are convinced that a low calorie diet will enable them to live into their hundreds. The idea is that you eat around 25% fewer calories than the recommended daily amount.

Some belong to the Calorie Restriction Society, which aims to educate people about CR. One inevitable parallel that is drawn are the links between CR and anorexia.

On that topic, the website states: "The motivation for anorexia is the mirror: "How do I look? Am I thin enough?" The answer is always "No." If you are anorexic, no matter how skinny you get you always look fat to yourself.

"For calorie restriction the motivation is longevity and health: forestalling aging and the onset of disease. Some CR practitioners aren't any thinner than people eating an ordinary diet. Calorie Restriction is not about appearance. CR is about cutting calories while maintaining excellent health."

The Telegraph, in 2010, wrote a feature around CR, quoting the founder Dr Roy Walford, the author of The 120-Year Diet.

"Walford, a medic who served in the Korean War, promised that, 'Calorie restriction with optimal nutrition, which I call the "CRON-diet", will retard your rate of ageing, extend lifespan (up to perhaps 150 to 160 years, depending on when you start and how thoroughly you hold to it), and markedly decrease susceptibility to most major diseases.'"

However, it may require a lot more research before people start reducing their calorie intake by a quarter.