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Natural Health Glossary
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Caloric restriction (calorie restriction)
Photo: Caloric restriction A regimen where an individual consumes fewer calories than average, but not so few that they become malnourished.

Individuals practicing caloric restriction without malnutrition have lower levels of total and abdominal fat, circulating insulin, testosterone, estradiol and inflammatory cytokines.

"Low" can be defined relative to the subject's previous intake before intentionally restricting calories, or relative to an average person of similar body type. Caloric restriction without malnutrition has been shown to work in a variety of species, among them yeast, fish, rodents and dogs to decelerate the biological aging process, resulting in longer maintenance of youthful health and an increase in both median and maximum lifespan.

Among the positive benefits include lower biomarkers for cardiovascular risk and lower biomarkers for cancer risk. In particular, one study found that a 20% CR for 12 months in overweight individuals results in a significant reduction in visceral fat mass, LDL-cholesterol, triglycerides, and C-reactive protein, and improves insulin sensitivity.

The long-term effects of moderate CR with adequate intake of nutrients on humans are still unknown. The "Minnesota Starvation Experiment" was conducted during World War II on a group of lean men (conscientious objectors), who restricted their calorie intake by 45% for 6 months.
Warnings: In some studies, low body weight has been associated with increased mortality, particularly in late middle-aged or elderly subjects. One of the more famous of such studies linked a body mass index (BMI) lower than 18 in women with increased mortality from noncancer, non-cardiovascular disease causes.

As expected, this severe degree of CR resulted in many positive metabolic adaptations (e.g. decreased body fat, blood pressure, improved lipid profile, low serum T3 concentration, and decreased resting heart rate and whole-body resting energy expenditure), but also caused a wide range of negative effects, such as anemia, lower extremity edema, muscle wasting [sarcopenia], weakness, neurological deficits, dizziness, irritability, lethargy, and depression.

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