Eat your way young

We all need nourishment in the form of food; we just don’t need as much of it as some of us eat. Especially during the Thanksgiving and Christmas/Hanukah/New Year’s season, we tend to stuff ourselves, stretching our stomachs so more food is required to be satisfied after the holidays are over. That’s one way to get old and unhealthy fast.

The one well-studied and proven technique you can use to turn back the clock is calorie restriction. That’s something that all the scientists and researchers who study anti-aging agree upon, based on the results of numerous studies.

I’m definitely not talking about starving yourself, or leaving the table still hungry – I am suggesting, though, to stop before you’re full. There’s a Japanese practice called ‘hara hachi bu,’ translated ‘belly 80 percent full.’ Since it takes about 20 minutes for our stomach to communicate its ‘fullness’ to the brain, it’s best to stop when you feel 80% full. (You can take a guess as to what 80% feels like.)

Have you ever eaten until full, only to find yourself feeling over-stuffed twenty minutes later? This Confucian teaching is designed to keep the belly from being too full. It’s practiced by the Okinawans in Japan, who are documented as having incredible longevity. So next time you sit down to eat, play with the experience of what it feels like to be 80 percent full.

Another way to eat a sufficient but not excessive amount of food is to take your time and chew thoroughly. By slowing down and chewing thoroughly you get more of the nutrients than if you gobble your food, and your stomach has a chance to tell your brain that it’s had enough.

Of course, even though calorie restriction for greater longevity is widely accepted by scientists, the average person doesn’t seem motivated to cut down on calories. Changing your diet to a healthier one, however, can also help you grow younger. More scientific support for just how significant dietary changes can be in helping us grow younger comes from Cynthia Kenyon, PhD, geneticist and director of the Hillblom Center for the Biology of Aging at the University of California San Francisco.

Her lab research has shown that reducing carbohydrates influences two key genes in the body that govern longevity and youthfulness. Limited carbohydrate consumption proved in the lab to turn down the gene that controls insulin production, and when that gene was ‘off’ another gene was switched on – one that acts like an elixir of life.

She said this second gene, DAF 16 (which she dubbed Sweet Sixteen), brings many anti-aging benefits such as boosting compounds that make the skin and muscle-building proteins work properly, and stimulating the immune system. Reducing carbohydrates and increasing antioxidants also lessen the impact of free radicals. Those are the rascals that lead to inflammation, which is a key component in most common diseases associated with aging today.If you need scientific evidence to believe we can impact our health and aging now and that totally reversing aging is a possibility in the near future, this is one study to boost that claim. You’ll find many more research studies at www.maxlife.org, a website of Maximum Life Foundation. They have a free newsletter so you may want to sign up for it.

Reducing carbs and calories can be an important step to growing younger, but not if it takes the JOY out of the season. So on the day of the holiday, go ahead and feast – eat as much as you want. It’s the rest of the holiday season and afterwards that it’s a good idea to practice ‘hara hachi bu.’


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