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Fewer Calories, Longer Life, Researchers Say

According to researchers, consuming fewer calories leads to a longer, healthier life.

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Less is more when it comes to eating for a long-lasting life. Research reveals that caloric restriction has been shown to slow the aging process in primates. Companionship also is an important part of healthy eating, a good reminder to make the most of mealtimes for seniors by inviting over a friend.

Q.I've noticed my appetite decreasing as I get older. At 80, I'm just not able to eat as much as I did 20 years. Is this healthy? It's also not as much fun to eat alone.

It's always best to keep your doctor apprised of any changes in your health habits. Your physician can let you know whether your appetite is normal or the sign of a health issue. Here's a study, though, that might interest you.

According to researchers at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, the Wisconsin National Primate Research Center and the William S. Middleton Memorial Veterans Hospital, consuming fewer calories leads to a longer, healthier life.

After studying monkeys who have lived most of their lives on a restricted diet, scientists found that a nutritious, but reduced-calorie diet blunts aging and significantly delays the onset of such age-related disorders as cancer, diabetes, cardiovascular disease and brain atrophy.

During the 20-year course of the study, half of the animals permitted to eat freely have survived, while 80 percent of the monkeys given the same diet, but with 30 percent fewer calories, are still alive.

"We have been able to show that caloric restriction can slow the aging process in a primate species," says Richard Weindruch, a professor of medicine in the UW-Madison School of Medicine and Public Health who leads the National Institute on Aging-funded study. "We observed that caloric restriction reduced the risk of developing an age-related disease by a factor of three and increased survival."

Eating alone certainly is not enjoyable. Why not check into a senior center in your area where you could join others your age for a nutritious meal and companionship. Or consider contacting a caregiving and companionship company such as Home Instead®.

The company's CAREGiversSM, who are screened, trained, bonded and insured, not only can serve as dining companions, but they can help you prepare tasty meals as well. Regardless of what you decide, make sure that you are getting nutritious meals each day.

Last revised: February 7, 2011

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