Wednesday, November 01, 2006

Decisions, decisions.

Two articles in today's NYTimes. In the first, a report on the results of a severely restricted caloric intake on monkeys:

...This approach, called calorie restriction, involves eating about 30 percent fewer calories than normal while still getting adequate amounts of vitamins, minerals and other nutrients. Aside from direct genetic manipulation, calorie restriction is the only strategy known to extend life consistently in a variety of animal species.

How this drastic diet affects the body has been the subject of intense research. Recently, the effort has begun to bear fruit, producing a steady stream of studies indicating that the rate of aging is plastic, not fixed, and that it can be manipulated.

In the last year, calorie-restricted diets have been shown in various animals to affect molecular pathways likely to be involved in the progression of Alzheimer’s disease, diabetes, heart disease, Parkinson’s disease and cancer. Earlier this year, researchers studying dietary effects on humans went so far as to claim that calorie restriction may be more effective than exercise at preventing age-related diseases.

The second -- well, I think it explains itself:

Researchers at the Harvard Medical School and the National Institute of Aging report that a natural substance found in red wine, known as resveratrol, offsets the bad effects of a high-calorie diet in mice and significantly extends their lifespan.

Their report, published electronically today in Nature, implies that very large daily doses of resveratrol could offset the unhealthy, high-calorie diet thought to underlie the rising toll of obesity in the United States and elsewhere, should people respond to the drug as mice do.

Resveratrol is found in the skin of grapes and in red wine and is conjectured to be a partial explanation for the French paradox, the puzzling fact that people in France to enjoy a high-fat diet yet suffer less heart disease than Americans.

The researchers fed one group of mice a diet in which 60 percent of calories came from fat. The diet started when the mice, all males, were 1 year old, which is middle-aged in mouse terms. As expected, the mice soon developed signs of impending diabetes, with grossly enlarged livers, and started to die much sooner than mice fed a standard diet.

Another group of mice was fed the identical high-fat diet but with a large daily dose of resveratrol. The resveratrol did not stop them from putting on weight and growing as tubby as the other fat-eating mice. But it averted the high levels of glucose and insulin in the bloodstream, which are warning signs of diabetes, and it kept the mice's livers at normal size.

Even more strikingly, the substance sharply extended the mice's lifetimes. Those fed resveratrol along with the high-fat diet died many months later than the mice on high fat alone, and at the same rate as mice on a standard healthy diet. They had all the pleasures of gluttony but paid none of the price.

I don't know if either or both of these approaches will ultimately be found to be effective, but purely in the interest of Science I know which one I'm going to adopt.

Just me, the mice, and a bottle of this:


We may not live longer, but we're going to be a lot happier than those skinny little monkeys. Posted by Picasa


Anonymous cooper said...

Indeed, dee, much happier. ATC had a blurb on this report. Basically they suggested waiting for the pill, since you'd need to drink 50 bottles of red wine a day to get the benefits exhibited in this study. Drinking that much wine, you may want to switch to Thunderbird to stay on budget.

10:57 PM  
Blogger D.B. Echo said...

It always makes me a little nuts when I hear reports like htis being ballyhooed on the news like they're actually "new." This one weirdo was talking about the life-extension-through-near-starvation plan two years ago:
And actually, I had first heard about this back in 1994.


Sorry. Election season is getting to me.

8:10 PM  

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