Yesterday, the Skepchicks debuted a new podcast called Curiosity Aroused! This show can be found at curiosityaroused.com, via RSS, and it also has its own iTunes listing under the culture section.
If you’re already subscribed via the Skepchick podcast, you’ll continue to receive CA until one day in the future when we may decide to split them up completely (but we’ll let you know first). If you don’t want any of the goofy Skepchick specials and interviews, feel free to just subscribe to CA.
If you liked what you heard of CA, you can help us out by giving us a good rating on iTunes and Zune!
Future episodes are on their way, dealing with vitamins, history, geology, and any other questions that happen to capture our curiosity. Our first episode, which is now live, is all about calorie restriction. Skepchick Stacey Baker wrote up some notes for you, which you can find after the jump.
01 Fewer Calories, Longer Life?
Show notes courtesy of Stacey Baker:
What is calorie restriction? Weight Watchers? South Beach? Does is involve Richard Simmons?
Lowering calorie intake can be a successful way to reduce body weight, but episode 01 of Curiosity Aroused examines calorie restriction as a permanent lifestyle adopted in hopes of extending lifespan by up to 40%.
40%. Thatâ€™s a lot.
With the exception of Methuselah, of course, the oldest humans live about 120 years. So, weâ€™re talking about living up to 168 years. But thatâ€™s not all. Enthusiasts also claim that CR improves quality of life. So weâ€™re talking about 168 years that, you know, donâ€™t include 80 or so years of wishing you were dead.
But proponents warn, you canâ€™t just live on coffee and cigarettes and expect results. The calories you consume must be of high quality. And so they refer to their lifestyle as Calorie Restriction with Optimal Nutrition (CRON).
Is there any science behind CRON, or is it complete bullshit? ÃŸ-more-Ã
I invited licensed nutritionist, Monica Reinagel, to the podcast to help me examine the science, or lack of science, behind CRON. Monica is a dynamic and intelligent person whoâ€™s involved professionally in both science and the arts. In addition to her formal education, she is an author, a professional opera singer, a podcaster, and a blogger. She sorts out the facts from the BS on her short podcast, The Nutrition Divaâ€™s Quick & Dirty Tips, and goes more indepth on her blog at Nutrition Data. For more information about Monica Reinagel, see the links below:
Proponents of calorie restriction make two major claims:
Lifespan can be extended by up to 40%
Quality of life can be improved
For this reason, the science behind CRON isnâ€™t black and white. Itâ€™s a tricky topic.
The former claim is backed up by a multitude of scientific experimentsâ€¦on mice. And roundworms. And fruit flies. Etc. (For more information, see this article:http://www.nytimes.com/2009/09/29/science/29aging.html?scp=5&sq=calorie%20restriction%20mice&st=cse)
The latter claim is something most of us probably already know. Maintaining a lower body weight**, and eating highly nutritious food does improve health and prevent some diseases. And having less diseases does make life more fun.
Testing the science of life extension via calorie restriction in humans is problematic at best, impossible at worst. Probably impossible, actually. The tremendous willpower to NEVER cheat or binge (ever), and the inability of scientists to gather a large, properly cross-sectioned group willing to do this, and be monitored so we know they are NEVER cheating is intimidating. Not to mention, a 168 year study would take multiple generations of scientists. And, to really test the 168-year-claim, youâ€™d have to test a sample over their entire life. You know, have your children counting calories. No birthday cake, little Johnny!
The closest weâ€™ve come is a study currently being conducted on rhesus monkeys at the University of Wisconsin. The study began in 1989, and the results arenâ€™t yet conclusive because the maximum lifespan of a rhesus monkey is 40 years. So, the extended lifespan would be 56 years, and the study has been in progress for 21 years. I bet itâ€™s like watching paint dry. â€œAre they still alive?â€ â€œYep, still alive!â€
(For more information on the rhesus monkey study, see this article:http://www.nytimes.com/2009/07/10/science/10aging.html?_r=1&scp=1&sq=calorie%20restriction%20monkeys&st=cse)
If the lack of supporting evidence hasnâ€™t scared you off, how about the lifestyle? How much fun is eating out when you have to divine and record all of the ingredients in your meal? What about holiday dinners with the family? What aboutâ€¦drinking?? I canâ€™t count shit after 2 rum & diets. Srsly. (To get an inside look at the life of an actual CRONner, go here: http://www.mprize.org/blogs/ or here: http://nymag.com/news/features/23169/)
In episode 01 of Curiosity Aroused, Monica further elaborates on the (alleged) mechanism behind calorie restriction, the challenges of the lifestyle, and gives her own personal opinion on the most scientifically supported approach to improving your chances of living a long and healthy life. Tune in.
** Note: CRON can cause one to be underweight, which can also be unhealthy.