Duke Health study says calorie cutting also cuts health risks

13 July, 2019, 15:28 | Author: Sherman Richardson
  • Elizabeth Renstrom for TIME

About 610,000 people die of heart disease in the United States every year - or, 1 in every 4 deaths - according to the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

In the USA, around 610,000 people die of heart disease every year, while 30.3 million are thought to have diabetes, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

It's no secret - watching what you eat can help keep your heart healthy.

This paper, the newest to draw from the information, primarily examines how reasonable caloric restriction impacts heart health and the way it might probably prevent growing old-related decline. Duke Health's trial involved 218 adults who were under the age of 50. Researchers began 143 contributors on a food plan that decreased their caloric consumption by 25%; 75 others have been assigned to a normal diet. In the end, 188 participants completed the study - 117 with caloric restriction and 71 without.

Even so, this relatively modest reduction in calories had significant effects on the participants who ate less: They lost about 16.5 pounds on average and saw improvements, including lowered cholesterol and blood pressure, on all six primary factors associated with risks to heart health. There were also several improvements in levels that measure the risk of metabolic disease. Participants additionally attended group and particular person counseling sessions for the first six months of the trial, whereas members of a control group merely continued their typical diet and met with researchers as soon as every six months.

"Exercise and diet are the two most profound and easily implemented interventions we have in our environment that can reduce our cardiovascular risks", said Dr William Kraus, senior author of the study and a professor at Duke University School of Medicine in North Carolina, US. "But. we didn't expect the degree of improvement we saw".

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"We expected some improvement in their biological parameters because they were losing weight", Kraus said to ABC News, "but the weight loss only explained 25% of the improvement".

Though they can't say why, the study authors think there's something about even a little calorie restriction - like skipping dessert - that's good for us, even if we're not overweight. The researchers say their findings suggest that caloric restriction can have health benefits above and beyond those normally associated with weight loss. The researchers put over 200 study participants on restricted diets for two years, and studied the effects.

The study was small but rigorous.

Investigators noted that calorie restriction caused a persistent and significant reduction from baseline to 2 years of all measured cardiometabolic risk factors, which includes change scores in LDL-C, total cholesterol to HDL-C ratio, and systolic and diastolic blood pressure. He is working to understand how caloric restriction works on a molecular level so that he and others can come up with medications that confer the same benefits without the pain and difficulty.

"Aging isn't considered a medical condition - it's just too common".

Susie Neilson is an intern on NPR's Science Desk.

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