Could eating only 600 calories a day extend your life?

A leading British scientist claims that the secret to a longer life isn't exercise and fad dieting, but eating a diet that is as low as 600 calories a day.

Dr. Michael Mosley, a presenter on BBC science show Horizon, explores the science behind fasting and lifespan in a program airing next Monday, August 6.

Why it works

"The bottom line is that it is the only thing that's ever really been shown to prolong life," Mosley reportedly told Radio Times. "Ultimately, ageing is a product of a high metabolic rate, which in turn increases the number of free radicals we consume."

He adds: "If you stress the body out by restricting calories or fasting, this seems to cause it to adapt and slow the metabolism down. It's a version of ‘what doesn't kill you makes you stronger.'"

The Institute of Health Ageing at University College London suggested eating 40 percent less could extend a person's life by 20 years, according to The Daily Mail on Tuesday. Intermittent fasting, such as once a week, could also offer the same benefits as calorie restriction by reducing the growth of hormone IGF-1, which contributes to aging, noted Mosley.

What about water fasting?

A recent study claims that routine 24-hour water-only fasting could be good for your heart. US research cardiologists found that fasting can lower your risk of developing coronary artery disease and diabetes and also can improve your blood cholesterol levels.

Another study reported in American Heart Association's Scientific Sessions 2007 also found a link between lower rates of heart disease and people who fast one day each month for religious practices.

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