Note: Almost 40 years ago (!) I wrote a piece on anti-aging research. Part of it was about the fasting diet (aka severe calorie restriction or CR). The article featured Roy Walford, a pioneer of that research at UCLA. Walford did not merely research CR, he also practiced it, and he looked emaciated to me. He later became part of the Biosphere 2 experiment of the early 1990s, which turned into a prolonged CR experiment for everyone. Walford came out of it with his health broken, and died in 2004 at 79, about normal life expectancy then. So I came to the latest research on CR with a lot of caveats in mind.
by Richard Conniff/Scientific American
The idea that organisms can live longer, healthier lives by sharply reducing their calorie intake is not exactly new. Laboratory research has repeatedly demonstrated the anti-aging value of calorie restriction (or CR), in animals from nematodes to rats—with the implication that the same might be true for humans.
In practice though, permanently reducing calorie intake by 25 to 50 percent or more sounds to many like a way to extend life by making it not worth living. Researchers have also warned that what works for nematodes or rats may not work—and could even prove dangerous—in humans, by causing muscle or bone density loss, for example.
But now two new studies appear to move calorie restriction from the realm of wishful thinking to the brink of practical, and perhaps even tolerable, reality. Writing in Nature Communications, researchers at the University of Wisconsin–Madison and the National Institute on Aging reported