Dietary restriction, which has long been shown to extend life in many species, is often described as a diet that activates an ancient cellular defense system: When food is scarce, the body defends itself by shifting its metabolism so that growth-related activities and reproduction are postponed until energy from available food increases.
Lower White Blood Cell Count
A lower white blood cell count is regarded as a success indicator for calorie restriction. A normal white blood cell count for healthy humans not practicing CR would likely be within the reference range of 4.00-11.0 x 10 9/L while a CR practitioner might come in at 3.2*.
What Happens when Pathogens Attack?
But what if you get attacked by a virulent pathogen? Will your low number of white blood cells mount an effective defense? That might depend upon your microbiome. When early humans faced provocations from pathogens, their immune systems were primed for challenges. There were no antibiotics, soaps, chlorinated water or even efficient ways to wash food. So, to stay alive long enough to pass on their genes, our ancient ancestors’ immune systems protected them against a huge number of pathogens.
Our immune systems today are light years away from that. Who hasn’t wiped out much of their commensal bacteria populations with antibiotics? And the microbial challenges we need to rebuild our immune system after antibiotic assault are often washed away with anti-microbial soaps and other microbe-killing products.
*Calorie restriction in biosphere 2: alterations in physiologic, hematologic, hormonal, and biochemical parameters in humans restricted for a 2-year period.
Walford RL, Mock D, Verdery R, MacCallum T.
This blog is an excerpt from Calorie Restriction Bows to the Mighty Microbiome, the complete blog on LivingtheCRWay. com. Gain access to the full blog and the complete collection of 295 blog posts by becoming a free Healthy Start member.