The Longevity Diet

I ripped through this book by Valter Longo – The Longevity Diet. It is the result of 30 years of dietary studies, clinical & experimental lab research, and epidemiological studies.  Expanding and refining on the discovery that calorie restricted diets result in 30% longer life expectancy in mammals, Dr. Longo has spent decades trying to find the ideal diet for humans that results in the longest and healthiest life.

Mostly it’s not a surprise, the ideal diet for humans is pescatarian, a diet that is something of a compromise between the Mediterranean diet and vegan. It’s high in nutrient rich vegetables and low in animal products. the Longevity diet makes some suggestions for improvement:

  1. eat each day within a 12 hour window. ex. breakfast at 8am and last meal at 8pm
  2. eat mostly vegetables, nuts and olive oil with fish two or three times a week.
  3. 0.31g to 0.36g of protein per pound of body mass each day. Increase protein as you get older than 65 to maintain muscle mass. protein should mostly come from vegetables, nuts, and legumes.
  4. Limit bad fats and sugars, maximize good fats and complex carbs. Unsaturated fats from olive oil, almonds, walnuts or salmon are good. Butter, margarine, animal fat, trans fats are not so good. Pasta, rice white bread, fruit juices should be limited and focus on carbohydrates that are nutrient dense – onions, tomatoes, leeks, garlic, beans etc.
  5. consider a multi-vitamin and omega-3/6 supplement at a lower dose (one every 3 days)
  6. Eat 2 meals and a snack. Have a good breakfast, then either a meal for lunch or dinner and a low-calorie, low-sugar, nourishing snack for the other.

There is a second part to the longevity diet that is quite interesting. The Fasting Mimicking Diet is a program for a 5 day fast with limited calories (approx. 1100 calories/day). Fasting periods are recommended for once every 6 months up to once a month depending on weight and health risks. The fasting is the part of the diet that provides the benefits that have been widely been researched with calorie restricted diets. All mammals including humans react to limited calories in the same way, the body starts to turn on some different processes – autophagy picks up and cells start to get destroyed and stem cell counts are increased improving new cell construction. Fasting has some pretty remarkable science to back all this up. Positive research is starting to show up for various cancers, autoimmune diseases, cardio vascular health and neuro-degenerative diseases.

The book goes into to the Why for each of these things that make up the diet, as well as variations for people at different ages and risk profiles. Dr. Longo takes a broader view of what makes a good diet than simply losing weight. That is what makes it stand out from the low-carb or keto diets and from Protein Power diet or Atkins.