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Researchers, scientific explorers, are always looking for the fountain of youth…or just faster, easier, or better ways to lose weight, get fit, or look younger – and then reporting on it. It’s a well-known fact that eating well in moderation, being physically active, and keeping a strong social network is key to strong health and longevity.

Roy Walford, a researcher, gerontologist and author, didn’t believe in eating in “moderation”. He theorized that one could live a longer and more vigorous live by consuming only 1,600 calories per day. He began his research in the 1960’s, and he reported that his test subjects (mice) doubled their life span on the restricted diet. He also lived on his restricted diet but died of ALS at the age of 79.

Scientists are still exploring the theory of eating less = living longer. It’s called “Calorie Restriction”, and I’m pretty sure I’m not a fan! Living longer in and of itself is less of an issue, provided I am is healthy and can continue to have an active and social lifestyle (me…social. Good one!). Eating less becomes an issue for me, particularly if less means less sweets (O Henry!). The latest scientific results are a mixed bag. On the plus side, certain age-related diseases like diabetes, arthritis and cardiovascular problems, arrived later in life for those who lived on restricted diets. Also reported was a “significant reduction in cancer if calorie restriction started at a young age”. There are tons of down sides to “caloric restriction” including to patients who are underweight – they may have the worst prognosis when a serious problem does arise.

Exercise – that evil “E” word. Where we collect fat on our bodies can affect our health. We know that when Homer Simpson flicked his gut and cheered “Woo hoo! Look at the blubber go!” – it wasn’t a good thing! Visceral fat is the type of fat that creates muffin tops or love handles around our waists and it carries all kinds of harmful effects like releasing fatty acids and inflammatory “guk” in our bodies (I assert that “guk” is a viable medical term). That guk is related to extra fat around the heart and liver, which increases the risk of diabetes and heart disease. By being physically active, there will be less visceral fat hanging around, and when we exercise, it’s the first to go…even if we don’t actually drop a pound! But you still have to work up a sweat…

And a social network? More and more people are taking a bite into cyberspace for social networks and support, from keeping themselves accountable on Twitter to monitoring progress with Exercise Apps. Weight Watcher’s Chief Scientist, Karen Miller-Kovach said “You’re not going to tweet yourself to thinness but if you’re following a program and also tweeting about it, you may see more success”. I have a Twitter account – I just don’t really know how to use it. I also have a new cell phone, but I don’t text. Guess this isn’t going to work for me – I’ll stick to blogging. I just have to remind myself, if I’m not willing to share what I’m eating, why am I eating it? Oh yeah. Because it’s good…

To sum up, the most important finding…it seems the fountain of youth is as elusive as ever! I’m running out of time – pass the chips!

Resources: http://www2.macleans.ca/2012/09/26/hunger-games/
http://www2.macleans.ca/2012/09/27/fat-but-fit/
http://www2.macleans.ca/2013/01/21/lean-mean-twitter-machines/

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