Calorie Restriction Keeps the Heart Healthy

March 29th, 2011 by Dr. Keith Nemec

Feeling younger in middle age may be as easy as eating a low-calorie, nutritionally balanced diet, U.S. researchers report.

These types of diets help slow cardiac aging, according to researchers at the Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis.

Their study included 25 people, aged 41 to 65, who’d consumed a low-calorie diet (about 1,400 to 2,000 calories a day) an average of six years.

Using ultrasound imaging, the team found the hearts of the people on the low-calorie diets appeared more elastic than those of other people the same age who ate a typical Western diet (about 2,000 to 3,000 calories per day).

The hearts of the people on the low-calorie diet were also able to relax between beats in a way similar to the hearts of people 15 years younger. The study appears in the Journal of the American College of Cardiology.

Hearts tend to stiffen and pump less effectively as people get older, but ultrasound examinations showed that the hearts of the people on caloric restriction appeared more elastic than those of the control subjects; that is, the hearts relaxed between beats in a way that is similar to the hearts of younger people. In addition, several heart disease risk factors and inflammatory markers–blood pressure, C-reactive protein, tumor necrosis factor-alpha (TNF-á), and transforming growth factor-beta1 (TGF-â1)–were lower in the caloric restriction group than in the Western diet group.

“This is the first study to demonstrate that long-term calorie restriction with optimal nutrition has cardiac-specific effects that ameliorate age-associated declines in heart function,” according to principal investigator Dr. Luigi Fontana.

Previous research in mice and rats found their lifespans increased by about 30 percent when they were put on calorie-restricted diets. This diet also protected the animals against cancer and atherosclerosis.

Fontana and his colleagues previously found that people on a very low-calorie diet had low blood levels of cholesterol and triglycerides, blood pressure scores similar to much younger people, less body fat, and reduced risk of diabetes.
This latest study also found that markers of inflammation indicative of primary aging were much lower in people who ate the calorie-restricted diets.

“It’s very clear from these studies that caloric restriction has a powerful, protective effect against diseases associated with aging,” said Dr. John O. Holloszy, a professor of medicine and co-investigator.

“Caloric restriction does not mean eating half a hamburger and half a pack of french fries and drinking half of a sugary beverage. These people have very good nutrition. They eliminate calories by eating nutrient-dense foods,” Holloszy said.

Calorie-restricted diets avoid refined and processed foods, soft drinks, desserts, white bread and other sources of “empty” calories, as well as limiting animal product consumption.
Washington University School of Medicine

Dr. Keith and Laurie Nemec’s comments on calorie restriction keeps the heart healthy.
Interesting in this study was that as people eat lower calorie, calorie restricted diets, which is a diet very easily sustained with a plant based living/raw food diet, it is the easiest way to eat a calorie restricted diet. Because if you are eating living/raw food in the right proportions, you will be filled up with the fiber, the raw fat, the raw protein, the raw carbohydrates in the right form filled with vitamins, minerals, phytochemicals, bioenergy and enzymes.

So, what this study showed was the hearts of people on low calorie diets were able to relax in between beats, and they reacted similarly to people that were 15 years younger in age. Very important to also note that people that were calorie restricted or eating this lower calorie diet, the blood vessels appeared more elastic. And they were lower in disease risk factors of inflammation, which is C-reactive protein and tumor necrosis factor. These were very important to understand, this isn’t just for heart health, this was for total health. This study did characterize it as heart health, but when you decrease C-reactive protein and tumor necrosis factor and transforming growth factors, when these are all inflammation and disease promoting factors, you are going to promote a higher level of health of every cell, tissue, gland and organ in the body. These were all benefits from the calorie restricted diet.

So it is very clear a calorie restricted diet is very simply when we eat a living/raw plant food diet. When we eat a diet high in vegetables, sprouts, seeds, nuts, legumes, avocados, sea vegetables. When we eat a diet of these in the living/raw state, we will be full; we will be highly filled with all the essential nutrients, bioenergy, bioenzymes, and phytochemicals. And we will go to the optimal body weight and we will have the lowest amount of inflammation in our body which would be linked to the lowest possible chances of contracting any diseases. This is a part of a lifestyle that will keep you in total health.

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