As early as the 1940’s, research has demonstrated again and again that the rodents that matured and grew the quickest would die earlier than those that matured and grew the slowest . But does this only apply to rats?
Other species of animal were also tested repeatedly with the same results: the faster an animal grew and matured, the younger it died 1 .
Rats! Humans too?
And it probably comes as no surprise that this is now an established fact in humans as well.
Early puberty (in boys and girls) increases our risk of certain cancers, especially breast and prostate cancer 2 .
We’ve already looked at the multi-generational impact that high animal protein intake can have on species including humans 3 – where not only is it statistically likely that it will shorten the lifespan of the individual eating the excess quantity of animal protein, but their offspring and the offspring of their offspring will also experience shorter lifespans.
But the idea that hitting puberty earlier means that we are likely to die earlier is probably not something that most of us realise. In the 1840’s, the average age at which girls reached menarche 4 (the first occurrence of menstruation) was about 17 5 . In 1920, it was 14.6; in 1950, 13.1; 1980, 12.5; and in 2010, it had dropped to 10.5. Similar sets of puberty figures have been reported for boys, albeit with a delay of around a year 6 7 .
Reduce calorie intake to live longer
It’s been proven that restricting the calories an animal can eat, either by underfeeding it or periodically fasting it, it’s possible to significantly prolong its life.
In fact, periodically fasting animals can double their natural life span 8 9 . Whilst we are not likely to double human life by this means, the evidence is strong that reducing the consumption of animal protein and caloric intake is likely to add years to your life, as can be seen from the largely plant-eating populations which are known to have the longest and healthiest lives – often referred to as the ‘blue zones’ 10 11 12 .
The above chart 13 shows the sort of diet that helps Chinese centenarians to live long and healthy lives.
The above chart 14 should be a wake-up call to us us who live in the UK and USA (position 20 and 31 respectively) – financially rich countries with diets that are robbing most of their citizens of years of healthy life.
Does fasting extend human lifespan?
This is aside from all the other amazing benefits of water fasting (such as clearing up chronic diseases like obesity, diabetes, ulcerative colitis, Crohn’s, psoriasis, heart disease and cancer), as explained by Drs Michael Klaper 18 , Alan Goldhamer 19 and Joel Fuhrman 20 – a topic that I will cover in more depth shortly.
The simple rule of thumb is that what’s best for human longevity is the same thing that’s best for human health in general – lower calories and higher nutrients. This is easily achieved through eating a varied and balanced wholefood plant-based diet.
- Saxton JA. Nutrition and growth and their influence on longevity in rats. Biological Symposium 1943;11:177. Referenced in The position of fundamental age studies www.ahjonline.com/article/0002-8703(61)90394-5/pdf.
- Staszewski J. Age at menarche and breast cancer. Journal of the National Cancer Institute 1971;47:935.
- Our Grandchildren Suffer From Our Meat Consumption
- Wikipedia: Menarche
- Beaton G. Practical Population Indicators of Health and Nutrition. World Health Organization monograph, 1976;62:500.
- Why is puberty starting younger? The Guardian, Mon 4 Nov 2013.
- Pediatrics. 2013 Dec;132(6):1125-6. doi: 10.1542/peds.2013-3058. Epub 2013 Nov 4. The enigmatic pursuit of puberty in girls. Herman-Giddens ME.
- Masoro EJ, Shimokawa I, Yu BP. Retardation of the aging process in rats by food restriction. Annals of the New York.
- Goodrick CL, Ingram DK, Reynolds MA, Freeman JR, Cider NL. Effects of intermittent feeding upon growth, activity and lifespan in rats allowed voluntary exercise. Experimental Aging Research 1983;9:1477–94.
- The Blue Zones, Second Edition: 9 Lessons for Living Longer From the People Who’ve Lived the Longest by Dan Buettner.
- Chen J, Campbell TC, Li J, Peto R. A Study of Diet Nutrition and Disease in the People’s Republic of China. University of Oxford Press, Cornell University Press, China Publishing House, 1988.
- Diet, nutrition and cancer: Executive summary. Cancer Research 1983;43:3020.
- Diet of Chinese Centenarians.
- List of countries by life expectancy
- The Harvard Gazette: In pursuit of healthy aging
- Cell Metab. 2017 Dec 5;26(6):884-896.e5. doi: 10.1016/j.cmet.2017.09.024. Epub 2017 Oct 26. Dietary Restriction and AMPK Increase Lifespan via Mitochondrial Network and Peroxisome Remodeling. Weir HJ, Yao P, Huynh FK, Escoubas CC, Goncalves RL, Burkewitz K, Laboy R, Hirschey MD, Mair WB.
- Scientific American: How Intermittent Fasting Might Help You Live a Longer and Healthier Life. David Stipp. January 1, 2013.
- Dr Michael Klaper fasting video: Fasting: Safe & Effective Use of an Ancient Healing Therapy.
- Dr Douglas Lisle and Dr Alan Goldhamer: Pleasure Trap, the: Mastering the Hidden Force that Undermines Health and Happiness.
- Dr Joel Fuhrman: Fasting and Eating for Health: A Medical Doctor’s Program For Conquering Disease.