Archive for July, 2009

Evidence for link between calorie restriction and longevity and better health mounts

July 10th, 2009 No comments

Now this is not good news for those that love their food, well what I mean by that is food quantity not quality. Calorie restriction is basically eating less and if you love to eat like a horse, aside from the weight problems this causes for some, the evidence that it speeds up the aging process keeps growing. Scientists have known for a long time that animals such as roundworms and rodents live much longer when their food is rationed. But you can’t always assume that this will translate to humans, although it makes it more likely and it certainly makes sense. Food is a fuel and just like your car the more it burns, the more wear and tear and the more exhausts that are produced.

Science magazine has just published a study titled…Calorie-Counting Monkeys Live Longer. Professor Richard Weindruch and colleagues at the  Wisconsin National Primate Research Center reveal that calorie restriction is indeed successful at improving survival and delaying disease in rhesus macaques, whose average life span is 27 years. “We have been able to show that caloric restriction can slow the aging process in a primate species,” Dr Weindruch announced.

The calorie restricted group of monkeys received 30 percent fewer calories than those on unrestricted diets. After 20 years, 80 percent of the animals given restricted diets are alive, compared to half of the unrestricted animals. Cancer and cardiovascular disease incidence is over 50 percent lower in the calorie restricted animals, and impaired glucose regulation has not been observed. “So far, we’ve seen the complete prevention of diabetes,” Dr Weindruch stated. Additionally, brain volume, motor control, working memory and problem solving abilities appear to be better maintained in the restricted monkeys.

Sterling Johnson, who is a neuroscientist in the University of Wisconsin-Madison School of Medicine and Public Health explains… “It’s not a global effect, but the findings are helping us understand if this dietary treatment is having any effect on the loss of neurons in aging. “Both motor speed and mental speed slow down with aging,” Dr Johnson explained. “Those are the areas which we found to be better preserved. We can’t yet make the claim that a difference in diet is associated with functional change because those studies are still ongoing. What we know so far is that there are regional differences in brain mass that appear to be related to diet.”

Read more…

Categories: Food, Life Tags:

Alternative therapies in the news

July 10th, 2009 No comments

An interview on Radio National discussing alternative therapies is worth a listen. You can download it here.

Trying to compare the dangers of herbs and natural therapies with that of pharmaceuticals beggars belief. A study published in JAMA in 1998 found that in 1994, an estimated 2,216,000 hospitalised patients had serious adverse drug reactions (ADRs) and 106,000 had fatal ADRs, making these reactions between the fourth and sixth leading cause of death in the US. Closer to home, here in Australia this article in The Age refers to a recent report that put the annual deaths from hospital errors at 4550 per year and one is six patients experience an adverse event such as hospital-borne infections, medication mix-ups, drug side-effects and patient falls.  You could rest assured that if there was one death from alternative or complimentary therapy, which would be a tragedy, it would be front page news and the lead story on every media outlet in the country.

Why are alternative therapies growing?
Well one reason is more of the educated public are growing weary of the side effects of drugs and that in general they only address the symptoms and rarely the cause. Pharmaceutical companies put their research dollars into products that need to be consumed regularly for the rest of your life to receive a health benefit rather than looking for a cure or to address the cause, statin drugs are a case in point.  
Another reason is that there are times when evidence based practice simply does not work. This is when skilled practitioners who think outside the square are called upon and while their remedies might not work all the time, they work enough to make the associated costs, inconveniences, effort and harms worthwhile.

Categories: Complementary Therapies Tags: