- Carbohydrates, vegetable proteins, little meat: These are the main lines of the “longevity diet”
- Close to the Mediterranean diet, it is characterized by fasting periods
Yes, the “longevity diet” exists! Dietary practices can offer a better chance of living longer. That’s what Prof. Valter Longo of the University of South Carolina says after he and his team analyzed hundreds of studies on diet, disease and longevity combined with their own work on aging. Her article was published in Cell magazine.
“We have examined the relationship between nutrients, fasting, genes and longevity in short-lived species and linked these relationships to clinical and epidemiological studies in humans, including centenarians, and we can begin to define a longevity diet that provides a solid basis for dietary recommendations.” ”, specifies Professor Valter Longo.
So what exactly should we eat in order to live as long as possible? Answer according to the authors of this paper: a moderate to high intake of carbohydrates from unrefined sources, protein from mostly plant sources, some plant fats for energy needs, all with meals spaced over an 11-hour window to 12 noon with, every 3 to 4 months, a 5-day cycle of the fasting diet to reduce insulin resistance.
So much for the theory. In practice, this translates into plates of veggies, some fish, white meat but no red meat or charcuterie, low-sugar seeds, nuts, olive oil, and dark chocolate!
A diet similar to the Mediterranean diet
To validate these elements – or not – the researchers want to carry out a new study with 500 people, which will take place in southern Italy. A place that is not determined by chance, but because the “longevity diet” has similarities – but also some differences – with the Mediterranean diet, which is widespread in this region. Like Sardinia, the island of Okinawa in Japan, or the Loma Linda region in California, southern Italy has large numbers of centenarians in communities that practice low-protein diets. “Our longevity diet represents an evolution of these diets, with our recommendation of limiting consumption to a 12-hour window per day and observing several fasting periods per year,” emphasizes Valter Longo.
But is such a diet suitable for everyone? “It has to be adjusted based on gender, age, health status and genetics,” the author admits, citing as an example people over 65 who may need more protein to maintain their body mass. And he adds the importance of being guided by a health professional when it comes to nutrition, “to create a plan that focuses on small changes that can be adopted for life, rather than big changes that which will certainly result in a loss of body fat, but followed by a recovery of lost fat’. A “longevity diet” that should therefore be embraced… in moderation!