For 25 years, the rhesus monkeys were kept semi-starved, lean and hungry. The males’ weights were so low they were the equivalent of a 6-foot-tall man who tipped the scales at just 120 to 133 pounds. The hope was that if the monkeys lived longer, healthier lives by eating a lot less, then maybe people, their evolutionary cousins, would, too. Some scientists, anticipating such benefits, began severely restricting their own diets.
The results of this major, long-awaited study, which began in 1987, are finally in. But it did not bring the vindication calorie restriction enthusiasts had anticipated. It turns out the skinny monkeys did not live any longer than those kept at more normal weights. Some lab test results improved, but only in monkeys put on the diet when they were old. The causes of death – cancer, heart disease – were the same in both the underfed and the normally fed monkeys.
Now we know that if you smoke a pack-of-nails a day, drink like a fish, or blow up to massive proportions you’re taking years off your life. Then again there are prominent figures like George Burns and Marlon Brando who treated their bodies like abject shit and lived to a ripe old age, meanwhile, while killers like cancer and heart disease can be caused by environmental factors, are also simply genetic time bombs.
And remember, none of these monkeys got hit by a drunk driver on their way to work one morning.
So it all boils down to what the non-fad assholes have been saying all along. Take care of yourself. Live an active life, and keep yourself fit. Eat good food, and don’t eat too much.
Hey, but if you really enjoy some greasy food like Pig-Wings (h/t Mrs. Weer’d on that gem!), or you want to enjoy a cigar and a few snifters of good scotch on a warm summer evening, or snack on the Doritos and cheap domestic beer while you watch the game on the tube.
Live a little, because being a half-starved monkey in a cage is no way to live!