The Benefits of Calorie Restriction
"We're going to talk about extreme life extension," he says. "I'm talking about very specifically allowing us to go into our second century of life with the vitality and the bounciness that you have when you're a young person."
Thanks to advances in technology and research on how diet affects the aging process, Dr. Oz says it might be possible for some people to live to see their 120th birthdays.
There's one man in Oprah's audience whom Dr. Oz says may become the first man in history to live to be 150 years old. Joe Cordell is one of thousands around the world who believe they've found the key to extreme longevity—calorie restriction.
Every day for the past seven years, Joe has limited himself to about 1,950 calories.
He believes that by eating less and restricting his caloric intake, he will trigger a genetic switch that slows the aging process.
Joe doesn't deprive himself of food. Instead, this 51-year-old father fills up on natural fruits, vegetables and lean proteins that are packed with essential vitamins and nutrients. "Whenever you're thinking about calorie restriction, you should continually think about getting the most nutritional bang per calorie," Joe says.
Then, he tops the peels with wild blueberries, raspberries and 2 ounces of walnuts.
"It's important to eat some nuts with breakfast so that you do take in some fat, some healthy fats," he says. "I think it helps the absorption of the nutrients, and it's very filling."
Watch as Joe takes you through a day in his life.
For lunch, Joe usually eats a large salad, loaded with vegetables. At dinnertime, he and his family enjoy lean meat or fish and more veggies.
When Joe started practicing calorie restriction, he weighed 175 pounds. Since then, he's lost 45 pounds, and he says he hasn't had a cold in seven years. Though he's in his "golden years," researchers studying Joe say he has the body of a 20-year-old athlete. "I saw my blood pressure go down substantially. My heart rate went down substantially," he says. "I had more energy than I'd ever had."
How does a limited diet change how your body ages? Dr. Oz says when you restrict your calories, the body understands that it doesn't have any resources to waste.
"The body gets really efficient," he says. "You turn on this new chemical pathway we never knew existed called the sirtuin pathway. What it tells you is don't make more babies because you don't have the excess abundant energy to do that—just live longer."
The body's cells also benefit when calories are limited. "We don't have toxic waste products coming out of our energy cells," Dr. Oz says. "So we're actually able to get the individual cell lines to live longer."
While some calorie restrictors prefer to eat five small meals a day, Paul and Meredith say it feels more natural for them to eat a big breakfast, small lunch and no dinner. "We have probably a breakfast that's bigger than most football players eat," Paul says. "It just depends on how you want to do it."
Meredith says they usually start the day with grains, fruit, vegetables and, as a treat, a sweet potato. "All of this adds up to a really good-sized meal," she says. "It gives us a good base for our energy needs for the day."
A restrictive diet hasn't slowed down Paul and Meredith. In fact, Paul says he has more energy and vitality than he did decades ago. "I'm 60 years old now. I have more energy than I had when I was 20 years old. I never dreamed it to be like this at 60," he says. "You can work better. You can play better. You feel like being kinder to people. Everything is just completely different."
Without proper research and medical advice, some people may eat the wrong kind of foods and become vitamin deficient. If you chose to get all your calories from burgers or sweets, Dr. Oz says you could develop health problems.
"You wouldn't get the right amount of calcium, so you might develop weakening of your bones," he says. "There are factors we have to take into account."
People who've adopted healthy eating plans that follow the program's principles, however, will see a difference over time. "If we took, and it has been done, people like John, and collect them together and look at how young their heart is or how young their arteries are, they end up turning out, over a couple of years, to get younger...not older," Dr. Oz says. "That's the best evidence to us."
David's life may be filled with luxuries these days, but it wasn't always that way. In 1938, he dropped out of school after failing the 9th grade and joined the Army. After serving in World War II, he found himself out of work, homeless and sleeping in a park. Then, as luck would have it, a Good Samaritan offered him a loan to buy a local diner. Nine months later, he sold that diner for a $700 profit—a fortune at the time.
In the years that followed, he made a fortune in real estate, buying undervalued homes and selling them for profit. Then, he took over Dole and turned it into the world's largest producer of fruits and vegetables. At one point, he owned 100 different companies around the world.
Luck finally seemed to be on David's side...until his wife was diagnosed with cancer.
He tried to find doctors who could save his wife, but the disease advanced too quickly. "The cancer got in her lymph nodes, and finally, she died," he says. "With that I said, 'What I want to do is find a cure for cancer.' I wanted to solve it, because I was very much in love."
David opened the North Carolina Research Center, one of the country's premiere life extension research labs, and changed the way he lived his life.
During a visit to David's home, Oprah sees how a diet of natural foods and commitment to exercise can change our definition of "old age."
"How many 85-year-olds do you know that can do 50 push-ups without a break?" Oprah says.
Watch Oprah's visit with David.
Then, it's time for breakfast. David says the real secret to his vitality is what he eats. "I try to eat fruits and vegetables exclusively," he says. "I never eat any saturated fats."
David doesn't restrict his calories, but he does choose his meals wisely. He says he usually eats natural oatmeal for breakfast, an egg white omelet packed with veggies for lunch and a nice piece of fish with more veggies for dinner.
Three or four times a day, David treats himself to a special smoothie made with 15 different fruits and vegetables. Thanks to all the spinach, carrots, mangoes, grapes and other ingredients, David says he hasn't had a cold or the flu in 20 years.
To give your cells an extra boost, Dr. Oz suggests a resveratrol supplement.
Learn the truth about Oprah, Dr. Oz and resveratrol.
"The resveratrol chemical, which is in red wine, when it's concentrated in this dose, in laboratory animals, it prolongs life expectancy," he says. "If you're interested in experimenting with this, do some homework on it."
To get the same benefits without a supplement, Dr. Oz says you'd have to drink more red wine than you can handle.
"It raises the big question of, 'Where will the proof be?'" he says. "But we've got to live a long time in order to prove that these kinds of things benefit us."
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