The Slowcook at Spydog Farm The Slowcook at Spydog Farm

Eat Like A Monkey?

July 10th, 2009 · 2 Comments · Posted in food news, Wellness

Dont eat like a monkey

Don't eat like a monkey

It’s fairly well accepted that eating less leads to longer life. An ongoing study of rhesus monkeys reinforces the idea that restricting calories means less chance of disease and extended lifespan.

The results come from a study of 76 monkeys underway at the University of Wisconsin, soon to be published in Science magazine. Researchers allowed half of the monkeys to eat as much as they wanted during the day, while restricting the other half to a diet with 30% fewer calories. The scientists gave the restricted monkeys vitamin and mineral supplements to ensure they did not suffer malnutrition and treated any animals that fell sick.

So far, scientists have concluded that rhesus monkeys that eat nearly a third less food than normal monkeys age more slowly. Sixty-three percent of the calorie-restricted animals are still alive compared to only 45% of their free-feeding counterparts. For age-related deaths caused by illnesses such as cardiovascular disease and cancer, the voracious eaters died at three times the rate of restricted monkeys: 14 versus five monkeys, respectively. Another seven control and nine lean monkeys died from causes not related to aging such as complications from anesthesia or injuries.

So what were these monkeys eating? That would be my question. My guess is they were eating mostly carbohydrates. It makes sense that monkeys eating fewer carbohydrates, and thus generating less insuln, would experience fewer health problems, such as obesity, diabetes, hypertension, atherosclerosis and the other diseases of civilization. Insulin is an essential hormone for metabolizing sugar, but it is also highly corrosive. It may be the single most important regulator of lifespan.

My advice: Eating less is healthy, but it can also make you hungry–especially if you are eating mostly carbs. A better idea is to enjoy more healthy proteins and fats. They will fill you up faster.

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  • jon w

    some of the same benefits of calorie restriction may be obtainable by intermittent fasting – skipping meals for 12-36 hours several times a week. eliminating refined carbs and minimizing carbs (10-15% of total calories) will keep your insulin low, allowing you to easily fast 24 hours without extreme cravings. it seems extremely probable to me that intermittent fasting like this was part of our evolutionary past, for a much longer time than the “3 square meals a day” habit.

  • Ed Bruske

    Jon, you’re probably right about the three square meals. However, I’m not sure about the fasting. Hunter-gartherer types lived pretty well. Evidence indicates that they spent maybe four hours a day gathering food, the rest of the time in other pursuits. But I don’t think it could hurt to eat less from time to time.