Alvise Cornaro and Calorie Restriction
The oil on canvas portrait of Alvise Cornaro executed by Tintoretto [Jacopo Robusti] c. 1560-5 is in the collection of the Pitti Palace in Florence.
Alvise Cornaro and Moral Hazard
The principles of calorie restriction were first stated by Alvise Cornaro in his four Discorsi [Discourses], 1583-95, on the secrets of his long and healthy life. The Discorsi have been reprinted at intervals through hundreds of succeeding years, usually under titles such as The Sober Life or How to Live 100 Years.
As a wealthy Venetian real estate developer he gorged himself with abandon in his youth until he was informed by his doctor at age 35, when he probably developed Type 2 diabetes, that he would not live until 40. He realized that his problem was too much food and adopted the principle of moderation in all things. It is estimated that he reduced his daily intake to about 1500 calories of high nutrient foods, like eggs, lean meat, whole grain bread and vegetable. He lived until 83.
Now it would be interesting to speculate what Cornaro would do today. No doubt he also had “high cholesterol.” Quite likely his doctor would say “just take a statin and pills to lower your blood sugar and you will be fine. It would be a good idea to lose weight but I can control your numbers with pills”. Would Cornaro have any incentive to change his habits?
Cornaro was right. While not a controlled trial, this study leaves very little doubt that calorie restriction can have a huge effect on all parameters of aging. The thickness of the inner layers of the carotid artery is regarded as an integrator of all processes that can damage arteries.
Next door to Cornaro’s beautiful palace in Padua is, you guessed it, a gelateria with “creme ricchi”.