Calories: can we still trust them?
Indeed, calorie is the amount of heat needed to increase the temperature by 1 gram of water of 1⁰ C. Such amount of heat depends on the initial temperature, and is thus difficult to measure accurately.
1 g of carbohydrate and 1 g of protein both provide about 4 calories. Yet their effect in the body is quite different.
In fact, it is a complex system of cells that, to regulate the thermal energy and consequently the body temperature, uses sophisticated metabolic mechanisms, activated through the intervention of hormones, the real messengers, and other body activities that do not depend only on the calories of food. For this reason, about 60% of the daily calorie intake is not used for metabolism.
How to choose foods
For example, 1 g of carbohydrate and 1 g of protein both provide about 4 calories. However, their effect in the body is very different, as each stimulates the synthesis of hormones with different actions: carbohydrates, when ingested, stimulate insulin, the hormone of storage; very different is the result of proteins intake, which instead stimulates glucagon, the hormone of mobilization, which in turn has an opposite effect to insulin.
In practice, the latter can be considered positive, while those with a high glycemic index are negative as such is their impact on health, mental clarity and fat mass.
Calories and longevity: the boundary for ageing well
Calorie is useful when it comes to longevity. It is now official, in fact, that a low-calorie diet can promote a longer life. But beware, it is not a question of adding years to life, but of adding life to years.
The desire of each human being, in fact, is to prolong youth and thus slow down the physiological aging of the body, to live longer and in good health with a body and a mind that show an age much younger than the effective one. The secret is all here: to reduce the calorie intake of the daily diet and to take a sufficient quantity of polyphenols.
The Japanese Blue Zone for Nutrition
The result led to a deep down of their daily habits, including nutritional ones. Therefore, It was discovered that their diet, in addition to a reduced caloric intake, was very rich in some foods and nutrients:
- lean proteins such as soy and fish
- long-chain omega-3
- polyphenols from green leaves vegetables
- island-native sweet potato, poor in starch and rich in antioxidants.
But that was not just it. It was also found that dinner was consumed much sooner than sleep time, meaning that the nocturnal fast was longer.
Why does calorie restriction have positive physiological effects?
- There is a decrease in insulin levels in the blood
- A significant reduction in fat mass
- A significant reduction in body temperature
- A significant reduction systolic and diastolic pressure.
All this happens because caloric restriction activates the expression of certain genes, not by chance called thrifty genes, as they increase the energy production of cells despite the reduction in food intake. In practice, more vitality with less food.
It is not a question of adding years to life, but of adding life to years.
Calorie restriction and polyphenols: the winning combination
And very little was known about their potential before 1955, when they were first discovered. Today it is known that they are powerful activators of human genes as they are involved in the synthesis of antioxidant enzymes, in the modulation of anti-inflammatory pathways and in the ignition of anti-aging genes. What's more, they are valuable key factors in maintaining a healthy intestine. In practice, these are real switches of health and longevity.