"It's an interesting paradox because restriction in animals seems to be the fountain of youth, but all my prior work in humans has shown not such great outcomes," said Janet Tomiyama, a psychologist who is a Robert Wood Johnson Foundation Health & Society Scholar at UCSF and principal investigator of this trial.
And the animal studies haven't had clear data on how well the animals are actually living.
"The animal data seems good with all the longevity studies but what people really don't know is how healthy the animals actually are," said Heidi A. Tissenbaum, an associate professor in the Program in Gene Function and Expression and in molecular medicine at the University of Massachusetts Medical School in Worcester. "How happy are the people? Are they feeling restricted all their life?"
Not only will the investigators be looking at cholesterol and other markers of health, but they will also measure the length of telomeres. These are pieces of DNA which, when shortened, seem to be linked with health problems and a shorter lifespan.
Among other things, the study will look at how personality might differ in calorie restrictors compared to normal eaters or overweight/obese people, as well as cognitive ability, impulse control and how stress is handled.
The study participants are mostly male (as are most calorie restrictors), well-educated and middle-aged.
It will take decades to have results from the trial but Arsenault feels he already has seen a difference.
He doesn't catch colds or the flu, has plenty of energy and neither his sexual drive nor his fertility have been affected, he said. In fact, he has fathered at least 15 children through a sperm bank since he started restricting calories.
Unlike many calorie restrictors, Arsenault did not have a mid-life health scare which propelled him into action. Instead, at the age of 25, he realized he wanted to concentrate on his career, postponing m
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