Caloric restriction has been shown in mice to be an effective way to extend their lifespans. How does it work? Basically, mice eat half as much as normal, and their bodies go into survival mode, making the most use of what little calories they get. That means that aging, an unessential process, is curtailed. What's really interesting is that there are two distinct methods in which the mice can get the same "live longer" results.
#1) Basic Caloric Restriction — Eat half of what you'd normally eat, day in day out. That means that for every scrap of food a mouse would eat, he or she can only eat every other time. So it's like a diet that you never break from. And that can be tough for some people.
#2) Intermittent Fasting (the cool one) — Eat every other day, but when you eat, eat as much as you want. Yes, that's right. Mice that were only allowed to eat every other day, but could eat as much as they wanted, still gained the same extended lifespan benefit as those that "dieted" every single day. Some would say this is a sort of rapid yo-yo diet, where you trade starvation for binges, and that's exactly right. But the technique has shown that, at least in mice, intermittent fasting can extend an animal's lifespan by 10 to 15 percent. Not only that, it helps keep their brains in good shape, and stave off disease longer.
While testing hasn't been done very much in humans, some people truly believe that various forms of caloric restriction and regular fasting have tremendous health advantages. One further variation of Intermittent Fasting stipulates that an irregular schedule is better for the body, as it shakes things up and keeps things as interesting as they would be if you were a caveman. One day the pickings might be slim, so you wouldn't eat. The next day, score, food! Then for two days, more slim pickings. Some see this kind of "diet" as a means to get back in sync with our bodies' natural rhythms. And who knows? There could be something to this…
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