Saturday, April 15, 2006

Raising the Standards for School Food

An amendment to the National School Lunch Act may finally require high nutritional standards of all food sold on school premises. That means not just in cafeterias but in vending machines, school stores, and snack bars as well, even at fund-raising events. The measure, which has strong bipartisan support in both houses, would do on a national level what many school districts have been trying to do for years: require that the schools set an example by providing only healthful foods during school hours.

Monday, April 10, 2006

Can Eating Less Help You Live Longer?

A low-calorie diet, even in people who are not overweight, can lead to changes in metabolism and body chemistry that have been linked to better health and longer life. A recent study showed that calorie restriction was linked to decreases in insulin levels and body temperature. Both are considered signs of longevity, partly because an earlier study by other researchers found both traits in long-lived people. The diet also led to a drop in thyroid hormones and declines in DNA damage.

Several explanations exist for why a strict diet, low in calories but high in nutrients, may slow aging. Many scientists think that an important factor in aging is DNA damage caused by free radicals, highly reactive oxygen-containing molecules formed during normal metabolism. Eating less leads to a slower metabolism and fewer free radicals. But before you start cutting back on calories, the study's doctors caution that the study is preliminary and has not conclusively proved that calorie restriction could make people healthier or add years to their lives.