Fascinating bit of research about calorie restriction and heart health from medicalnewstoday.com.
They report on a paper produced by Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis that has shown that “the heart doesn’t decline nearly as rapidly in people who have significantly restricted their caloric intake for an average of seven years”.
Great news but what does mean and how achievable is this for us ordinary folk?
The literature I have read around calorie restriction (CR) seems to have a foundation of vegetarianism or veganism. This makes sense as there tends to be an emphasis on fresh foods rather than processed, man-made options, generally understood to be higher in calories.
Raw food takes this a step further by providing a very nutrient dense diet based foods of only vegetable and fruit origin. Even nuts, which are not low in calories but are high in minerals and good fats have a place. Personally I’m interested in the raw food movement and do flit in and out of being a raw ‘fooder’. Frankly though, I find it more challenging to sustain when under stress or in cold weather.
CR is not just about reducing calories’ it also means food has to be ‘nutrient dense’ in order to get the most nutritional bang for your buck from every single mouthful. Otherwise we could chose to live on low fat and sugary, reduced calorie, factory made packet foods. If you want to explore why we shouldn’t do this for any length of time, I suggest you research the Pottenger cat study; I’ll leave that with you………………….
How realistic is CR for us mere mortals?
I believe it is doable in ‘real life’ however it needs planning and prioritising to do it safely and effectively. It won’t be for the average McDonald’s 3 times a week-er.
If you remove all processed foods and replace with fresh options; that’s a good start. Reduce the size of your meals; most of us eat too much quantity. Drink more fluid; it is not uncommon to mistake thirst for hunger. Spend time understanding where you calories come from and identify (roughly) your daily consumption. We all need to know where we are starting from on any ‘journey’ to change.
However it should be pointed out that anyone who is nutritionally aware tends to have other healthy habits, so as mentioned in the research, it may not just be down to food intake.
This is a big subject but I believe one worth exploring, particularly if you believe (or know) yourself to be at risk from cardiovascular issues. We appear to have a tool that can make all the difference in the world in keeping us alive and well. It may not be a soft option but at least we have a choice which in itself is empowering.