(Ed. note: this blog was previously posted on sleightsofmind.com)
“The only way to keep your health is to eat what you don’t want, drink what you don’t like, and do what you’d rather not.” – Mark Twain
Twain may have been correct about health, but longevity may be another matter altogether. Eat, drink, and be merry… if you want to die: that is what the evidence has shown for the last 75 years, right? In a way, perhaps it was too good to be true: go on a diet and live happily ever after… forever. Well, not forever, but, yes, for significantly longer. It still seems to be a robust finding in mice and rats, where lifetimes are short and easily measured in the lifetime of a single grant funding cycle. But a recent careful, well-controlled, and decade-spanning study from a group at the National Institute on Aging has shown that, whereas monkeys that are put on a restricted diet long-term may be healthier than monkeys that are fed 50% more, they don’t live longer. But you have to admit, the monkeys do look spritely.
Nature 489, 318–321 (13 September 2012) doi:10.1038/nature11432