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Hunger Keeps the Heart Younger


Hunger Keeps the Heart Younger

(epharmanews)- In the last few years, a new type of calorie restriction (CR) diet trended. The health benefits of this diet are stirring controversy between researchers. However, a new discovery tips the balance to the supporters of this “hunger” diet.

Researchers at Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis have found that people who restrict their calorie intake have hearts that function more like those who are 20 years younger.

The researchers hooked portable heart monitors to 22 practitioners of calorie restriction (CR) who ate healthy diets but consumed 30 percent fewer calories than normal. Their average age was just over 51. For comparison purposes, researchers also studied 20 other people of about the same age who ate standard Western diets. Heart rates were significantly lower in the CR group, and their heart rate variability was significantly higher.

“This is really striking because in studying changes in heart rate variability, we are looking at a measurement that tells us a lot about the way the autonomic nervous system affects the heart,” says Luigi Fontana, MD, PhD, the study’s senior author. “And that system is involved not only in heart function, but in digestion, breathing rate and many other involuntary actions. We would hypothesize that better heart rate variability may be a sign that all these other functions are working better, too.”

“Higher heart rate variability means the heart can adjust to changing needs more readily,” says lead author Phyllis K. Stein, PhD. “Heart rate variability declines with age as our cardiovascular systems become less flexible, and poor heart rate variability is associated with a higher risk of cardiovascular death.”

The heart’s ability to change its rate is essential to adapt according to different situations. The heart needs to pump harder and faster when a person changes their position from lying down to standing up, same applies when one is practicing or working out. On the other hand, when one is sleeping or doing some office work no real effort is required from the heart to pump blood, on the contrary, it needs to slow down. All these functions are voluntarily done via the autonomic nervous system.

Dr. Stein has previously studied heart rate variability in different groups depending on health or age. Her studies included old people, children and depression patients. Dr. Fontana on the other hand concentrated on people who followed a calorie restricted diet.
Researchers stated getting interested in such dies after a research done half a century ago proved that lab rats that were administered this diet lived 30-40% more than the other rats.

“The idea was to learn, first of all, whether humans on CR, like the calorie-restricted animals that have been studied, have a similar adaptation in heart rate variability,” Fontana says. “The answer is yes. We also looked at normal levels of heart rate variability among people at different ages, and we found that those who practice CR have hearts that look and function like they are years younger.”

“But we can’t be absolutely positive that the practice of CR is solely responsible for the flexibility of the cardiovascular system,” Stein says. “People who practice CR tend to be very healthy in other areas of life, too, so I’m pretty sure they don’t say to themselves,

‘Okay, I’ll restrict my calorie intake to lengthen my life, but I’m still going to smoke two packs a day.’ These people are very motivated, and they tend to engage in a large number of very healthy behaviors.”


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Prepared by: Laila Nour


Source :

ePharmaNews






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