Notes from Personalized Life Extension Conference 2012
Friends, old and new: there were a couple things I didn't have time for in my talk. The most important was a description of nutrition analysis software. Christine suggested we try to highlight "action items" in our talks. One action item from my talk would be to analyze your diet, or even part of it, just once -- this, regardless of your interest in CR.
From my presentation (most of the following is what I had to leave out, in order to place more time on the question of whether or not CR actually works in humans, since so many people asked for more details on that):
If you think spending a few hours entering food into a computer program, just a few times at the beginning of your CR journey, for what you typically eat -- and then doing it periodically when you make major changes to your diet -- is too difficult, and for that reason, you don't want to try CR, my response would be that that's not a reason not to try CR, because it's probably a good idea for everyone to analyze his or her diet, for studies have shown that most people have nutritional shortages in their diets, some very significant. So "No, I don't want to go on CR because it means taking time learning about the nutritional content of my diet" is a strange reason not to go on CR, because the harm of nutrient shortages on CR is probably not much different from the harm of nutrient shortages in a non-CR diet.
And my view of the robustness of the CR effect -- that it doesn't require extraordinarily precise amounts of nutrients to kick in -- informs my CR practice, and makes me feel confident that, for example, just trying to eat nutritiously this weekend, without knowing how many milligrams of zinc or selenium I'm consuming, is not going to harm me. Roy Walford, the first researcher to suggest that humans try CR, also adopted this approach.
Still, I'd strongly recommend that everyone, those thinking about CR or not, get some idea of what they're eating. It's actually fun to do it at least once.
Twenty years ago, I wrote my own little, extremely user-hostile program to analyze my diet when I started CR, but today there are many great programs available for diet analysis. Here are three:
(Free. Web-based, or stand-alone program. Designed for CRers.)
(Free. Web-based. Search for foods that contain particular nutrients.)
(Not free -- though some versions are cheap. Has great "find food with nutrients I'm short on" function.)
Cron-o-meter was designed specifically for people practicing CR. There's a Web version and a stand-alone version. It's user-friendly and actually fun to use. The one problem with it -- shared by almost all nutrition programs -- is that you can't just press a button and have a list of foods appear that would solve whatever nutrient shortages you might currently have. So it has to be combined with something like nutritiondata.com, which is also free, and has a search function that enables you to find foods with high quantities of particular nutrients (for example, those Cron-o-meter indicated you are short on). But it's easy to use these two programs in combination. And you learn a lot about nutrition when you start plugging in your favorite foods into the software, searching for foods with certain nutrients, etc.
Nutribase isn't free, but offers a version that doesn't cost too much -- around $80 -- that has a function for searching for foods that will make up for deficiencies in what you've so far entered into the program.
Most nutrition analysis programs also allow you to track other things, such as weight, exercise levels, and so on.
Note: if you're interested in signing up for 23andMe (now only $99), please do so by following the link below. It costs the same to you, but 23andMe will donate $5 to the CR Society.
<a href="http://www.anrdoezrs.net/click-6751594-11020309" target="_top">
<img src="http://www.lduhtrp.net/image-6751594-11020309" width="150" height="50" alt="Discover yourself at 23andMe" border="0"/></a>