(un)Pick Your Poision
Much research has been done over the past fifty years in an effort to understand what type of diet is best for health and longevity.
But what can we REALLY learn from all of these studies, which are often done by feeding rats, mice and other animals various “diets”?
It turns out that we can learn quite a bit, it’s just not what you might expect.
Author and former NASA scientist Roy Mankovitz tells the story:
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Some time ago, I had a conversation with an executive of a foundation that has poured millions of dollars into studies of this kind in an effort to advance their mission of “anti-aging” research, hopefully, to be applied to humans.
He was proud of the fact that the research had shown that a calorie-restricted diet increased the longevity of the experimental group versus the control group of rats. I told him that from my analysis of the research, what their millions had really proved was that when you feed rats food that contains ingredients that rats are not evolutionarily adapted to eat (rat chow), you are slowly poisoning them.
Thus, if you restrict the intake of such poison, they will live longer than those fed larger doses.
This is not rocket science; it is common sense and can easily have been predicted without spending a nickel.
As you will see from the hypothesis in this book, the same is true for humans. The answer is not calorie restriction â€“ it is to switch to foods that we are evolutionarily adapted to eat. Think about it – does starvation seem synonymous with increased health in the evolutionary scheme of things?
The only time I have seen animals voluntarily fast is when they have eaten a toxic substance or are otherwise ill.
Analyzing the experiment more closely, we can see that the coexisting experiment of feeding the subjects rat chow has a major impact on the conclusions to be drawn from the current experiment of food reduction.
Let’s look at rat chow. One of the most popular lab rat chows contains ground corn, soybean meal, beet pulp, and a variety of other processed foods as well as artificial preservatives and synthetic vitamins.
The ratio of macro to micronutrients is fixed by the chow formula. Questions immediately come to mind as to whether the corn or soybeans come from genetically modified (GMO) crops, and whether the ingredients were tested for toxins such as pesticides (after all, a rat is considered a pest!). Certified rat chows are available that are tested for some toxins, as are irradiated chows, designed to be bacteria free.
I tried to get answers to some of these questions by researching the CRD studies and the various rat chows used in each, but I could not get definitive answers to these basic questions. If the study is designed to evaluate the effects of restricting the quantity of food given to rats, isn’t the food itself a (or maybe the) critical variable? Shouldn’t it be analyzed to the ultimate extent possible, tracing each ingredient back to its ultimate source?
Where were the corn/soybeans grown? What fertilizers and pesticides were used? What was the source of the seed stock? Of course the biggest question of all is which of these ingredients, if any, would be considered natural food for a rat in its native environment?
In aerospace and many military programs, traceability is mandatory. Materials can be traced by lot number back to the mine, if necessary. After suggesting to this fellow that millions may have been wasted to determine that rat chow is lousy cuisine for rats, I offered to discuss a different set of experiments that might prove to be much more interesting, but by then I was talking to the wall. I undoubtedly completely lost him when I also suggested that the very concept of “antiaging” is fooling with Nature and quite unnecessary. After all, our cellular clocks have a lifetime of 120 years. The trick is not to stop aging, but to age while remaining completely healthy.
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