In this guest post, Albany College of Pharmacy and Health Sciences PharmD Canidate blogs about The Longevity Diet by Dr. Valter Longo
The Longevity Diet, by Dr. Valter Longo, teaches how a combination of fasting mimicking dieting (FMD) and longevity dieting can foster cell renewal and regeneration to help lead a longer, healthier life. Dr. Longo, born and raised in Genoa, Italy, arrived in Chicago with the plans of majoring in music. After comparting the American diet and prevalence of disease with that of Italy’s he decided to switch his focus. He switched to biochemistry to study aging and was able to work with many renowned researchers. Dr. Longo’s main focus is the study of juventology; the study of staying young.
Dr. Longo goes on to list four genes and pathways activated by sugars and proteins that accelerate aging. He claims RAS and PKA are activated by sugars. Once activated they will inactivate enzymes that protect the body from oxidation and other damage. TOR-S6K and GH-IGF1 also accelerate aging but are supposedly activated by proteins. Thus, Dr. Longo created the longevity diet that is a low protein and fat, high carb diet. This diet is meant to be eaten on a daily basis for those 65 and younger. The most important aspects are to eat plant-based proteins or fish three times a week and to carefully monitor your glycemic load, not your index. Glycemic index will tell you the effect food has on blood sugar; a higher index means a higher spike in blood sugar. Glycemic load will tell you the effect it has on blood sugar while also taking into account the quantity. For example, wheat bread has a glycemic index of 71 but a glycemic load of 9 per slice. A sponge cake has a glycemic index of 46 and a glycemic load of 17 per serving.
Dr. Longo suggests eating 2 meals a day with a sugar free snack between an eleven or twelve hour period. He suggests eating breakfast with one major meal, being either breakfast or dinner. If someone eats at 8am, they should eat their dinner or snack by 7pm or 8pm. While shortening this period can increase weight loss, Dr. Longo also states eating in a period of 10 hours or less can increase the risk of cardiovascular disease and gallstones. Combining the everyday longevity diet with periodic five day FMD has shown promising results in mice studies for several disease states.
Dr. Longo explains that periodic fasting promotes stem cell dependent regeneration and rejuvenation. Dr. Longo hypothesizes that fasting three days before chemotherapy treatment and one day after can help protect normal cells while making chemotherapy more toxic to cancer cells. He claims starving an organism will signal normal cells to a protected, nongrowth mode while cancer cells will ignore the signal and continue growing. This will help chemotherapy target cancer cells specifically and cause little damage to normal cells. His research has been conducted in yeast and mice models and is waiting for further human testing.
Other mice studies have also shown promising ties between FMD and reversing cardiovascular diseases. Calorie restriction decreased inflammation and markers associated with cardiovascular diseases according to Longo. Unlike using blood pressure medications, the goal is not to block enzymes but to promote cellular protection, rejuvenation, and regeneration to improve function of cells. In his study, Longo saw a decrease in systolic blood pressure, triglycerides, and LDL cholesterol. He also saw a CRP (creatinine reactive protein) return to normal levels. CRP is used to detect abnormalities occurring in the body from infections to cancers. An increase in CRP can indicate an inflammation in the arteries. Eating a plant-based protein diet mixed with a Mediterranean diet between FMD is important.
Throughout his book, Dr. Longo repeatedly makes it a point to state that his work is based on animal studies and is not backed by the FDA. If you plan on adopting any of these diets, please do so under the supervision of a healthcare provider. For more information, read The Longevity Diet by Valter Longo available at Fallon Pharmacy.