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Could 'Extreme' Low-Cal Diets Bring Longer, Healthier Life?
Date:5/25/2011

By Amanda Gardner
HealthDay Reporter

WEDNESDAY, May 25 (HealthDay News) -- Science has shown that diets that veer close to starvation can make everything from mice to monkeys live longer.

But can such a strict eating regimen prolong human lives, and if so, would those extra years be healthy, happy ones?

Recent research from Washington University scientists found that people who slashed their calorie intake have lower core body temperatures than those who eat more. Core body temperature is the temperature at which all of the functions in the body can operate at maximum efficiency, so the link looks like a positive one, according to some researchers.

Trent Arsenault, a 35-year-old engineer in the Bay Area, certainly hopes so.

He has been a "calorie restrictor" since 2000, consuming just 1,800 calories a day or 25 percent less than what a male of his size -- 6-foot-1 and 150 pounds -- would normally consume, he said.

Since he started, he has shed 60 pounds and now has a body-mass index of 19, just one notch above underweight (which is 18). His body fat composition is only 10 percent.

Arsenault is also one of 28 participants in the first long-term clinical trial to look at extreme calorie restriction in humans, and its effects not only on longevity but also on health.

He was recruited with the help of the Calorie Restriction Society, an international organization with several thousand members.

The study is known as CRONA (Caloric Restriction with Optimal Nutrition and Aging Study). It is being done at the University of California, San Francisco, where participants from many different states as well as England and Japan are traveling for a weekend of tests including cognitive exams, body measurements and a visit to an egg-shaped chamber that measures body fat composition. They'll also complete surveys on everything from their medical history and eating habits to sleep patterns and stres
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