Wednesday, 13 February 2013

Who Wants To Live Forever?

For quite a while, there has been scientific evidence that a highly nutritious but calorie restricted diet could extend the life of worms and double the life lengths of mice in the lab ..... and of course anecdotally, Indian Yogis and peasants from the Caucuses, lived to be 150 on very meagre or restricted diets ... didn't they?

So some bright sparks put two and two together and stirred in a bit of science, and came up with a group known as Cronies (Calorie Restriction with Optimal Nutrition).

The group tries to live on less than the recommended NHS example of 2,500 calories a day for a man with average exercise - the USDA however suggests that for a man who runs 25 miles a week its 2,500 calories per day, and says only 2,000 calories per day for someone who does less exercise .... however I have looked on runners web sites, and many of them recommend up to 2,700 per day for a runner of 6 miles per day, but as little as 1,800 for a moderate jogger.

So there is obviously a lot of dispute about

(a) What's the right amount (height and exercise levels are both factors).
(b) And therefore what constitutes a 'restricted diet'.

Devotees of the regime suggest 1,900 calories a day for men, and 1,600 for women, (consisting of 9 per cent protein, 59 per cent carbs, and 32 per cent fat). However if all you are losing is 100 calories a day (or 700 per week), this doesn't look extreme at all - as an example, a packet sachet of cup a soup is 99kcal .... so is that all your giving up to be on a restricted diet?

It doesn't make a lot of sense, or they are totally misrepresenting the maths .... I was expecting a diet of something around 1,500 calories a day i.e. 500 calories less than the 2,000 USDA recommendation. I mean, how can giving up a 'cuppa soup' and then measuring each meal by weight be classed as 'restricted', and yet these are all very thin people.

Connor MacLeod - Immortal

I once read a science fiction story (Wolfbane by F Pohl and KC Kornbluth), in which the inhabitants of Earth are now (for plot purposes too SF to be relevant here), living on very restricted diets, and have slowly removed energetic pursuits from their lives, as the calorie counts drop and drop ..... maybe the idea is that we all 'calorie restrict' - nutritionally strengthen our diets, and live slow contemplative lives (meditation, yoga, abstinence, alcohol and tobacco free etc) for 150 years .... hopefully with no health issues (mental or physical), because if you expect the NHS to provide this regime you will be dead first.

Even the scientific evidence is patchy, with at least one major study published last year, suggesting that no longer life ensues from a restricted diet, although the onset of some age related health issues seem to be delayed. I also seem to recall that there are also strong arguments in favour of a fish, nut and cereal diet, to have both a healthy and long life ..... with no particular restriction on the diet front.

However, even if the benefits were overwhelmingly obvious, would it be something we would all want ..... if an occasional treat is an avocado sandwich, life would be pretty damn boring (and for a long time) .... remember no alcohol at all ....

I am just not sure the benefits are worth it.


  1. I guess the only measurement of this is one your death bed at 75. Giving up foods and living up until 100 might seem like a good idea after all (boring or not).

    1. After a recent health scare threatened my dream of personal immortality, I sympathise with your point. Thanks for the comment.


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