Calorie Restriction Versus Anorexia Nervosa
By Dr Irina Webster
I was asked a question on calorie restriction (CR). A reader from Washington DC believes that lower calorie diet leads to longevity and healthy life style. I found this great article by Dr Irina Webster, who sheds more light on this topic.
There is a small, but growing group of extreme dieters who believe that significantly reducing the amount of food they eat, will not only delay the aging of the body, but also prevent developing heart problems, diabetes and other chronic diseases.
This movement, called calorie restriction or some call it CR, is getting massive attention from Baby Boomers. Longevity–obsessed people in this category are continuously looking for ways to keep young and fit as long as possible.
Calorie restriction is not just about weight loss like typical diets. It is about reducing long-term calorie intake and consuming adequate amount of nutrients and elements at the same time with a purpose of achieving a more energetic old age.
And there is a scientific proof for it. Many studies on rodents and primates have shown that eating less helped them to live longer and be more energetic. Many people who follow calorie restriction claim that cutting amount of food and calories will prolong their life and keep them healthy longer.
The followers of CR generally eat 20-30% less than the normal recommended meal, avoid sugar and saturated fats. Most of their calories come from fresh vegetables, fruits and grains.
So, for some people CR is a good way to stay younger and healthier longer. But on the other side there are people who will put their health at risk by following CR. These are people who have anorexic tendencies and people with low body fat. Also, restricting diet for at least 12 months even for a normal weight person can result in lower muscle mass and reduced capacity to perform physical exercise. Moreover, long time diet restriction can be associated with low bone density and early developed osteopenia.
Calorie restriction by itself does not mean a person will develop anorexia in the future. Recent study found that over half of the people who develop anorexia are genetically predisposed to it.
So, people who develop anorexia easily have an obsessive gene in their genotype (or gene which is responsible for developing addictions).
People without this tendency rarely develop anorexia if ever. Sometimes it is possible to predict if a person can develop anorexia by observing their behaviors closely. They normally have underlying issues such as self-esteem, control problem, anxiety and depression. They also crave for weight loss and self-control.
To conclude, calorie restriction by itself has two sides. When CR is balanced it helps some people to stay young and healthy longer. But on the other hand many people get obsessed with counting calories and reducing the food amounts that end up damaging their health and longevity.
Some people can develop anorexia as a consequence of CR (normally who are predisposed to it). To avoid negative side effects of CR it is important to know about how to balance what you eat, what your ideal weight and level of fitness are.
Disturbing the balance will bring on one or another negative consequence of dieting. This can affect the subconscious mind and form mental blockages that can have a catastrophic impact on the person by becoming anorexic.
This then has the reverse effect of what CR people are trying to achieve and actually shorten their life span by 10 to 15 years. Plus these subconscious blockages can take many agonizing years to get rid of.