Mice kept on a diet that is healthy (but absolutely no fun at all) in which their caloric intake was restricted to only 70% of what’s considered “normal” lived 30 to 40% longer than the usual lifespan. The only downside of this restriction was that the mice were less fertile than their non-restricted counterparts.
Most people can’t restrict calories for long, so, according to the New York Times, scientists are trying to find a drug that tricks the body into thinking it’s eating fewer calories. The problem is that all of these restricted calorie experiments are done on captive mice, who are selected for quick breeding and who are fed on rich diets. A low-calorie diet could be much closer to the diet that mice are adapted to in the wild, extending their life simply because it is much healthier for them. Mice don’t live that long, anyway. Humans have a longer life span, and that extended duration of time on the planet leaves us more vulnerable to cancers.
So, after 20 years of experimenting with caloric restriction on monkeys in captivity, studies found the monkeys were healthier (i.e., they had fewer incidents of diabetes, cancer, and heart disease), but their life span was not significantly longer. Eating more prudently than we generally do, therefore, was good for quality of life, but not for quantity of life.
And that’s the point of my taking on this issue in the first place. People call my radio program knowing they’re probably going to die of some particular terminal disease they have. They call me, because they’re spending each day suffering emotionally over the realization that they will soon be dead. My response to one woman in this situation was to wake up each morning and yell out loud: “Damn – I’m not dead! Today, I’m gonna LIVE OUT LOUD!!!” The point of our being upset about death is the realization that we’ve lost all we value in life. So, take each day that you’re not dead to live life to the fullest. Enjoy that day you’re not dead. Don’t waste one precious moment of it.
Come to think of it, that’s good advice for everyone, since at different times, and at different rates, we’re all terminal. Don’t waste one minute of life.