What is the Longevity Diet by Valter Longo?

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What is the longevity diet? The Longevity Diet, developed by biochemist Dr. Valter Longo, Ph.D., is meant to help people live both longer and healthier lives. The Longevity diet plan is a set of guidelines focused on healthy eating that includes eating more plants, less protein and includes fasting.

Fasting correctly promotes autophagy, which is the body’s way to renew damaged cells. Autophagy occurs when there are limited nutrients available in the diet and the body begins to use its energy stores. The word “autophagy” literally means to self (auto) eat (phagy).

Spermidine can help the autophagy process because it is a natural polyamine that is present in all living organisms, which are directly involved in cellular homeostasis maintenance. Polyamines play an essential role in cell growth. And humans rely on homeostasis to keep a stable internal state (like our body temperature) despite changes outside of the body.

How To Live Longer And Feel Better 

We all want to live the best life possible and that includes living longer and feeling good throughout our life especially our senior years. To do that, we have to take some important steps.

First, consider what you put in your body. Food is what fuels us, but it’s important to make sure you are eating the right types of foods. A good place to start is looking at the Blue Zones. These are five areas in the world where people live long, healthy lives. They have low rates of chronic diseases such as heart disease and cancer.

The Blue Zones are spread all over the world and include: Okinawa, Japan; Sardinia, Italy; Nicoya, Costa Rica; Ikaria, Greece and Loma Linda, California. They all have a similar dietary pattern. To live longer, look at the common habits they have:

  • Eat mostly plants; meat is rarely consumed
  • Watch what you drink: Water, tea, coffee and wine are the primary drinks of choice
  • Limit dairy and eggs
  • Limit sugar
  • Don’t overeat

After watching what you eat, the other part of that is allowing the body to use what it has consumed and promote autophagy. Increased autophagy can be upregulated with a signal for the process to begin and oftentimes that is through fasting, which allows the body to use what it has stored so cells are renewed.

What Is The Fasting Mimicking Diet?

Dr. Valter Longo created the Fasting Mimicking Diet as a way to replicate the benefits of fasting, but still allowing the body to receive nutrition. It is a low-calorie, high-fat and low-carb plan that causes the body to generate energy from noncarbohydrate sources after glycogen stores are used up in a process known as gluconeogenesis. It provides 35-54% of normal calorie intake.

It mimics the body’s natural response to traditional fasting such as cell regeneration, fat loss and decreased inflammation, but puts less stress on the body.

Dr. Longo is the founder of L-Nutra, a company which creates ProLon®, a 5-day dietary program that provides meals people can consume on the Fast Mimicking Diet.

What Can I Eat On The Fasting Mimicking Diet?

The Valter Longo meal plan lasts for about 5 days. It is recommended to do this diet once a month. Foods are usually vegetarian and easily digestible. The suggested Longevity diet food list:

  • Nut bars
  • Soup blends such as tomato, minestrone
  • Kale crackers
  • Olives
  • Herbal tea such as spearmint, hibiscus

Can I drink coffee while fasting? It’s important to stay hydrated and drink plenty of water and decaffeinated teas such as spearmint and hibiscus.

How Much Weight Can You Lose On The Fasting Mimicking Diet?

If people stick to the Fasting Mimicking Diet for 5 days every month, they could lower their body mass index (BMI) by 0.4 to 0.9 percent every month. While this may not sound like a lot, it actually is. For someone who is obese, this could help put them in a healthy weight range in a year.

Can You Drink Coffee On The Fasting Mimicking Diet?

It’s important to stay hydrated on the Fasting Mimicking Diet, which includes mostly water and some teas. But, Dr. Longo states that coffee is also allowed, but not with all of the sugar and artificial sweeteners that a lot of people use.

How Often Can You Do The Fast Mimicking Diet?

Under the Valter Longo fasting plan, the Fast Mimicking Diet should be done for 5 days. As for how often a person needs to do it varies. A healthy person who exercises, is at a healthy weight and follows a Blue Zone diet may only need to do it twice a year.

A person with health issues like obesity, high blood pressure or high risk of cancer in the family may need to do this once a month.

The Fasting Mimicking Diet produces the same results of a water fast, while providing the body nourishment it still needs. Within 12 hours, the body begins to enter ketosis where it starts to break down and burn fat. Within 24 hours, the body enters autophagy and at 72 hours, the body is breaking down old immune cells and generating new ones.

What Is The Longevity Protocol? 

The Longevity Diet focuses on a low-protein, low-sugar and is mostly plant based. It also includes the Fasting Mimicking Diet as well as regular exercise. The number of meals eaten are reduced and food is limited to less than 12 hours a day.

Dr. Longo’s book and research indicate this is an optimal diet for health and longevity. By eating mostly plant-based foods, limiting animal foods to just a few servings of fish a week and following a Fasting Mimicking Diet for 5-day periods, this protocol can reverse the damaging effects of aging-related diseases such as:

  • Diabetes
  • Heart disease
  • Cancer
  • Alzheimer’s
  • Autoimmune
  • Inflammatory Conditions

What Do You Eat On The Longevity Diet? 

The Longevity Diet is similar to the Fast Mimicking Diet on what types of foods should be consumed, but allows more calories day-to-day unless fasting. Here is a list of foods that can be eaten:

  • Plant-based foods (vegetables, fruits and legumes)
  • Nuts
  • Olive oil
  • Occasional low-mercury fish or other seafood (2-3 times a week)
  • Modest amounts of protein (whether plant or animal-based)
  • Very limited or no dairy, but goat’s milk and cheese are okay
  • Minimize saturated fats and sugar

The plan also calls for 2-3 meals a day, usually two meals and one snack in a 10-12 hour window and avoid eating 3-4 hours before bedtime. Multivitamins should be taken. And the Fasting Mimicking Diet should be done a few times a year.

The day starts with a simple, but nutritious breakfast. Something like a nut bar, tea or coffee and fruit. 

Is The Longevity Diet Healthy? 

The Longevity Diet has clinical data to back up its claim that it has remarkable effects on aging and lowering disease risk factors. It’s proven to help people:

  • Lose weight
  • Reduce abdominal fat
  • Prevent age-related muscle and bone loss
  • Build up resistance to diabetes, cardiovascular disease, Alzheimer’s and cancer

The changes are simple, but have a profound impact on the body.

What Does Valter Longo, Ph.D. eat? 

One of the biggest factors on the Longevity Diet is keeping protein intake low, especially if you are below the age of 65. It is recommended that it is between 0.31 to 0.36 grams per pound of body weight. For a person who is 130 pounds, that would be 40 to 47 grams of protein. People over the age of 65 should slightly increase their protein intake.

His research on what people should eat was the result of more than 10 years of scientific research and included the five pillars. Here is the origin:

First Pillar

Understand cell interaction with different nutrients and how some of them affect cell functioning.

Second Pillar

Through epidemiology, which studies the cause of disease in populations, the diet turned out to be a factor having a significant impact on metabolism function.

Third Pillar

Clinical trials show the dietary style may have an impact on health.

Fourth Pillar

Genetics and lifestyle was linked after studying centenarians and their eating behaviors.

Fifth Pillar

Included the study of complex systems and simplifying it through intuitive models. This concluded the prevention of chronic pathology through food and diet is possible.

What Does Valter Longo, Ph.D. Eat For Breakfast?

The Valter Longo breakfast is one green tea and one black tea bag with a squeeze of lemon along with a cinnamon raisin toast with low-sugar fruit preserves. He then doesn’t eat or snack on anything until lunchtime.

Supplements To Help Support Autophagy

Spermidine is one of the main supplements that help support autophagy. It is a polyamine, which is a family of molecules that are essential to many central cellular mechanisms, such as cell growth and proliferation, genetic stability maintenance and autophagy. Spermidine assists autophagy by ridding the body of bad cells while promoting new and healthy cellular growth.

  • Don Moxley - Director of Applied Science

    Don Moxley is the Director of Applied Science at Longevity Labs. Moxley draws upon his career as an athlete, a sports scientist, and an instructor to lead and educate on the science of autophagy and longevity.