Monkeying with Calorie Restriction

If you thought yesterday’s post about calorie restriction was interesting, you’ll love this report—it’s got monkeys! Everyone loves monkeys. Especially a healthy looking social monkey and an overweight lethargic grumpy one—the primate odd couple!

The New York Times introduces us to Canto and Owen, two rhesus monkeys on totally different sides of the calorie restriction spectrum. Canto who eats 445 calories a day is healthier and much younger looking than his buddy Owen who consumes 885 calories daily—Owen doesn’t appear happy about it. Some scientists believe the plight of Canto and Owen sheds serious light on the benefits of calorie restriction for humans. Michael Mason reports:
Researchers at Washington University in St. Louis have been tracking the health of small groups of calorie-restricted dieters. Earlier this year, they reported that the dieters had better-functioning hearts and fewer signs of inflammation, which is a precursor to clogged arteries, than similar subjects on regular diets.

In previous studies, people in calorie-restricted groups were shown to have lower levels of LDL, the so-called bad cholesterol, and triglycerides. They also showed higher levels of HDL, the so-called good cholesterol, virtually no arterial blockage and, like Mr. Linksvayer, remarkably low blood pressure.

“Calorie restriction has a powerful, protective effect against diseases associated with aging,” said Dr. John O. Holloszy, a Washington University professor of medicine. “We don’t know how long each individual will end up living, but they certainly have a longer life expectancy than average.”

Researchers at Louisiana State University reported in April in The Journal of the American Medical Association that patients on an experimental low-calorie diet had lower insulin levels and body temperatures, both possible markers of longevity, and fewer signs of the chromosomal damage typically associated with aging.
Anyone else want a pet rhesus monkey now?

Health Points: Monday

Doctors say it is good news that the number of pounds gained is less than the widely believed 15, but bad news that "Generation XL" kids seem to be learning patterns of gradual weight gain that could spell trouble way beyond graduation.
  • Okay fellow gym rats, how many of you get stiff or sore from working out? It certainly happens to me from time to time. Jeannine Stein of The Los Angeles Times explains the right stretches can help get you right:
Your stiffness and soreness might be due to the fact that although weight-lifting increases the size of the muscle, it does nothing to make the muscles more flexible, according to Suzanne Martin, an Alameda-based physical therapist, Pilates instructor and author of the book "Stretching." For that, you need to stretch.
But a now-ponderous stack of research has shown that trans fats raise heart disease risk four to five times more sharply than do saturated fats. Trans fats both raise "bad" cholesterol, or LDL, and cause "good" cholesterol, or HDL, to drop, while saturated fats only raise LDL. Moreover, trans fats are linked to ailments such as diabetes and dementia, said Walter Willett, chairman of the department of nutrition at Harvard University's School of Public Health.
Scientists pointed to numerous factors that contribute to 32.7 percent of boys under 10 and 27.8 percent of girls being overweight: massive portions at meals, the "energy density" -- calories per gram -- of food eaten, children being drive rather than walking to school, and ethnic group, among others.
Obesity -- which affects one in every three Americans -- and the illnesses associated with it cost the United States some 90.7 billion dollars a year in health care costs, a University of Pennsylvania researcher said.
  • I don’t think this will alarm too many Eat to Livers, but we have an egg salad crisis. The Associated Press reports suspected contamination caused a particular brand to be recalled from seventeen states:
Ballard's President David Ballard said the company has temporarily suspended producing egg salad while it investigates the contamination. Consumers can return the 12-ounce containers of egg salad for a refund.
"There is an overwhelming number of studies that show a link between obesity and breast cancer," Cheryl Rock of the University of California, San Diego said at the annual conference of the North American Association for the Study of Obesity (NAASO).