Longevity diet: the three key changes in diet to live longer and better | Health & Wellness

Although the equation for a long and healthy life includes genetics, there is something that some call the “Longevity Diet” and that is nothing more than a balanced diet rich in certain foods that favor the proper functioning of the body.

This was determined by a study by the Longevity Institute of the University of Southern California in the United States and published in the scientific journal Cell.

The research showed that it is also not only a question of what goes on the plate, in what quantity and quality, but also when.

In the article, American researchers Valter Longo and Rozalyn Anderson summarize the state of knowledge.

Friends of calorie bombs like burger, fries and soda menus, or comforts of the soul like white chocolate must now be very strong: the duo talk about limiting energy intake and fasting more often to minimize disease risk and increase life expectancy.

The three key changes to the Longevity Diet

Similarly, Longo and Anderson outline the three fundamental characteristics of an optimal diet: medium or high carbohydrate intake (45-60%) from high-quality sources; little but enough protein from mainly vegetable sources; and 25 to 35% mainly vegetable fat.

Translated into everyday cooking, this means: “Lots of legumes, whole grains, and vegetables; some fish; no red or processed meat and very little white meat; little sugar and refined grains; good amounts of nuts and olive oil and some dark chocolate”says Longo.

The new menu is reminiscent of Mediterranean diets, which occur in the so-called blue islands. These diets are usually plant-based, with some seafood, and relatively low in protein.

Daily window from eleven to twelve hours

In addition, according to scientists, the optimum is eat only within a daily window of eleven to twelve hours and have multiple fasting periods throughout the year, he says.

Longo has studied and worked on the subject of longevity for much of his life. He has written several books and on his website he gives advice on staying young and lists so-called recipes for longevity.

They’re likely to disappoint meat lovers, but they don’t seem entirely unfriendly to pleasure, either: couscous with fish, Tuscan bread salad, and pasta with aubergines. Longo also founded a company with products for fasting concepts, which he states in the study’s appendix.

individualized diet

Longo and Anderson emphasize in their work that an anti-aging diet must be tailored to the individual. There is no solution that is as suitable for a fit 20-year-old as it is for a 60-year-old with metabolic disease. Gender, age, lifestyle, health status and genes need to be taken into account, they write. For example, people over 65 may need more protein, they say.

For Kristina Norman, researcher on aging at the German Institute for Human Nutrition, these adjustments are a very important point: “In old age it is often difficult to eat enough protein. An insufficient amount can lead to loss of muscle mass and, consequently, an increased risk of falls and fractures. So eating a little more meat than is generally recommended may be advisable.”

The author duo examines a wide spectrum of work: starting from studies on yeast fungi, worms or flies to clinical data and modelling. In addition, there are findings about traditional nutrition in places where many people live to a very old age.

“A study assigning a group to the Longo-recommended diet and comparing life expectancy at the end with a control group would be very difficult to carry out. That’s why the authors approach it by putting together different pieces of evidence,” Norman said. He considers that Longo’s and Anderson’s theses are convincingly proven.

Parallels with pre-existing recommendations

There are many parallels, he said, with well-known recommendations, such as those of the German Nutrition Society, and also with a menu that scientists long ago proposed for a healthy diet that is also environmentally friendly.

“Contrary to popular belief, healthy eating recommendations don’t change every few years. In general, they are very stable,” said Norman.

“Longo’s study may be considered old, but the issue has been revisited and is increasingly supported by evidence,” he added.

“By taking an approach based on more than a century of research, we can begin to define a longevity diet that represents a strong foundation for nutritional recommendations and future research,” says Longo.

“It is better to take little energy than too much”

For Bernhard Watzl, former director of the Institute for Physiology and Biochemistry of Nutrition at the Max Rubner Institute, the review demonstrates above all that the quantity and quality of nutrition are crucial for a long life.

“It is better to take little energy than too much. He explains the underlying mechanisms in the body: “The more a system is challenged, the more it wears out. It is much more important to challenge the body at a low level.

However, the data available so far does not convince both Watzl and Longo: “Fasting is only something for people who cannot limit their energy consumption,” he says. In that case, temporarily abstaining from food could help resensitize certain receptors in the body.

Usually, It’s never too late to eat a healthy diet throughout life, emphasizes Watzl. However, in the case of some diseases that develop in the body for decades, the sooner the better.

Benefits even in people of 60 or 80 years

Longo said that even people in their 60s or 80s could increase their life expectancy by several years if many of the suggestions he also propagated were applied. According to the study, the greatest benefits would come from eating more legumes, whole grains, and nuts, and less red and processed meat.

Regarding the quality of food, Watzl considers some habits in this country to be positive: eating wholemeal bread or muesli, for example.

“However, too much cheese or sausage is quickly added to the bread. Or you eat light bread.” Watzl also criticizes highly processed foods, because of the additives, but also because of the rapid availability of nutrients. This overloads the metabolism.

In general, Longo and Anderson advise small changes in diet and discourage radical changes. Many people are probably familiar with the problem with dieting: If the plan is too restrictive, you won’t be able to stick with it long-term. The result is a yoyo effect.