This I Believe

Bob - Stilwell, Kansas
Entered on July 10, 2006
Age Group: 50 - 65

This I believe:

I want to live as long and as healthy a life as I can. I believe that one diet, called Calorie Restriction, provides the best chance of doing so. It is already changing my life. I am one of thousands of people who have switched to it. I hope millions more discover it.

The diet’s rules are simple:

Rule 1. Cut calories – a lot. Maybe 20% to 30%. I am 5’7″, exercise regularly, and eat 1700 to 1800 calories a day.

Rule 2. Get 100% of the Recommended Daily Intake of all nutrients that government has set standards for – about 25 nutrients.

I converted to this diet two years ago when my wife suggested I get a larger waist size in pants. She was very diplomatic, I might add.

Since I have always loved science, when I decided to lose weight, it was only natural to check the scientific literature about diets.

Calorie Restriction stood out. It talked not about losing weight, but about possibly extending a healthy life well into my 100’s. This resonated with me. I hope to backpack in Yosemite on my hundredth birthday. This diet might just might make that possible.

Over 600 scientific articles have been published about Calorie Restriction in the last ten years. Calorie Restriction makes animals healthier, extends their average life span, preserves muscle tissue as they age. It fights heart disease, cancers, diabetes, neurodegenerative diseases. In short, animals are less disease ridden throughout their lives.

Two months into the diet I had a completely unexpected benefit not mentioned in any study. My lifelong symptoms of Restless Leg Syndrome disappeared. I was amazed.

But what is most wonderful, what really hooked me, is this diet extends the maximum life span of animals put on it. Some mice live 30% longer than the longest lived mice on a standard diet.

No one knows if this will happen for humans, it’s a controversial subject. But we already know many of the same physiological changes happen to humans on CR that happen to animals. They are happening to me.

I found cutting calories easy, but getting all the nutrients hard, particularly since I want to get them from food, not supplements. About a 1/2 hour each day on my computer helps me track foods and nutrients.

This has taught me so much about nutrition and foods. (For instance, I learned shiitake mushrooms are nutritious, but you should cook them. Unless you want to learn, as I did, about Shiitake Dermatitis. But that’s another story.)

It has also taught me that I am in complete control of my weight. I can make it go down, I can make it go up, as I choose.

I am plenty willing to spend that 1/2 hour a day to live a longer, healthier life.

And my wife tells me I need a smaller pants size.