Loose Women: Dr Hilary discusses how to live longer

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Blue zones are regions of the world where people live longer and have low rates of chronic diseases. A way in which most people from this region eat has been shown to have a significant impact on longevity.

Numerous research involving how those living in the Blue Zones achieve such impressive lifespans often comes down to one pertinent factor.

A healthy diet that involves eating in moderation has been key.

In Okinawa, for example, the elderly people follow the ancient rule of “Hara hachi bu” which entails eating only until the stomach is 80 percent full.

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Which has been shown to help slow ageing.

Long-term caloric restriction (CR) is a robust means of reducing age-related diseases and extending life span in multiple species, but the effects in humans are unknown.

Animal studies by Rozalyn Anderson, who researches metabolism and ageing at the University of Wisconsin, have shown that macaques following similar “calorie restricted” diets and have a markedly lower risk of age-related diseases such as cancer, diabetes and heart disease.

In one study published in the New York Academy of Sciences, caloric restriction in the traditional Okinawan diet and its impact on healthy ageing was further investigated.

“The low caloric intake, long life expectancy, and the high prevalence of centenarians in Okinawa have been used as an argument to support the CR hypothesis in humans,” noted the study.

The study investigated six decades of archived population data on the elderly cohort of Okinawans (aged 65-plus) for evidence of CR.

Analyses included traditional diet composition, energy intake, energy expenditure, mortality from age-related diseases, and current survival patterns.

Findings include low caloric intake and negative energy balance at younger ages, little weight gain with age, life-long low BMI, relatively high plasma DHEA levels at older ages, low risk for mortality from age-related diseases, and survival patterns consistent with extended mean and maximum life span.

It concluded that: “This study lends epidemiologic support for phenotypic benefits of CR in humans and is consistent with the well-known literature on animals with regard to CR phenotypes and healthy ageing.”

Several hypothesises have found that calorie restriction seems to reduce the build-up of the toxic free radicals that are normally the result of our metabolism, and which can damage our cells.

According to Diddahally Govindaraju, a geneticist at Harvard University, in Boston, Massachusetts, this decreases the risk of forming damaging mutation in one’s DNA, which could lead to diseases like cancer.

“Calorie restriction appears to reduce DNA damage and improve DNA repair,” he says.

Besides eating before the point of being full, Okinawa’s have a diet that is mostly plant-based which has been shown to further boost longevity and reduce age-related diseases.

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