Walford, RL., Harris, SB, Gunion, MW. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, 1992; 89: 11533-11537.|
Abstract: Biosphere 2 is a 3.15-acre space containing an ecosystem that is energetically open (sunlight, electric power, and heat) but materially closed, with air, water, and organic material being recycled. Since September 1991, eight subjects (four women and four men) have been sealed inside, living on food crops grown within. Their diet, low in calories (average. 1780 kcal/day; 1 kcal = 4.184 kJ), low in fat (10% of calories), and nutrient-dense, conforms to that which in numerous animal experiments has promoted health, retarded aging, and extended maximum life span. We report here medical data on the eight subjects, comparing preclosure data with data through 6 months of closure. Significant changes included: (i) weight, 74 to 62 kg (men) and 61 to 54 kg (women); (ii) mean systolic/diastolic blood pressure (eight subjects), 109/74 to 89/58 mmHg (1 mmHg = 133 Pa); (iii) total serum cholesterol, from 191 + 11 to 123 + 9 mg/dl (mean + SD; 36% mean reduction), and high density lipoprotein, from 62 + 8 to 38 + 5 (risk ratio unchanged); (iv) triglyceride, 139 to 96 mg/dl (men) and 78 to 114 mg/dl (women); (v) fasting glucose, 92 to 74 mg/dl; (vi) leukocyte count, 6.7 to 4.7 x 109 cells per liter. We conclude that drastic reductions in cholesterol and blood pressure may be instituted in normal individuals in Western countries by application of a carefully chosen diet and that a low-calorie nutrient-dense regime shows physiologic features in humans similar to those in other animal species.