Italian-American gerontologist and cell biologist Valter Longo, professor at the Leonard Davis School of Gerontology at the University of Southern California (USC) in the US, is one of the world’s greatest experts on how an antiaging diet works .
In addition, he was the creator of the Longevity Diet (DdlL), which he described and explained in a book with the same title.
Dr. Longo, along with Dr. Rozalyn Anderson, a professor of geriatrics at the University of Wisconsin-Madison and co-author of the research, examined a wide variety of nutrition studies, from studies in laboratory animals to epidemiological research in human populations
This comprehensive review of the scientific literature on what an antiaging diet looks like sought to identify how nutrition affects longevity and healthy living.
The results provide a clearer picture of the characteristics that must meet the best diet to have a longer and healthier life, according to Professor Longo.
The review of hundreds of previous studies was based on studies of various aspects of diet, from the composition of foods and calories consumed to the length and frequency of fasting periods.
“We explore the link between nutrients, fasting, genes and longevity in short-lived species. We connect these links with clinical and epidemiological studies in primates and humans, including centenarians”, notes Longo.
The essential characteristics of this diet seem to be a moderate to high intake of carbohydrates from unrefined sources.
An optimal longevity diet should also include a low but sufficient amount of protein that comes primarily from plant sources.
Also, it is important to take a sufficient amount of fats of plant origin to provide around 30% of a person’s energy needs, according to these two researchers.
Ideally, in this diet “all meals of the day should take place within a period of 11 to 12 hours”, which would allow for a daily period of fasting, they say.
On the other hand, every 3 or 4 months, a cycle of 5 days of fasting or “a diet that imitates fasting” must be carried out. This can help reduce insulin resistance, blood pressure and other risk factors in people who are most at risk of disease, according to Longo and Anderson.
Dr. Longo describes what an antiaging diet would look like in practice and in real life. This would be based on six points:
- Lots of legumes, whole grains and vegetables
- some fish
- No red or processed meats and very little white meat (poultry)
- Few refined cereals and sugar
- Good levels of dried fruit and olive oil
- A little dark chocolate
In addition to meeting these general characteristics, it must be adapted to each individual depending on their sex, age, state of health and genetics. To do this, you need to consult a health care provider who specializes in nutrition.
It is a diet based on small changes that can be adopted for life and focused on anti-aging. This can be supplemented with standard medical care, helping to prevent disease and maintain health into old age, Longo says.
Keys to live longer
The European Medical Institute of Obesity (IMEO) is in line with Dr. Longo’s recommendations regarding the Longevity Diet, explains Andrea Marqués, an expert in dietetics and gastronomy at this center.
Marqués points out that the recommendations of the DdlL “are very close to our usual recommendations both for our patients and for anyone who wants to take care of their nutrition and, therefore, their quality and life expectancy”.
With regard to protein levels, the IMEO points out that it is important that “they are sufficient for each individual and that they include proteins of high biological value”. These are those that contain all the essential amino acids in the high and appropriate proportions that the body needs.
This institute agrees with Longo regarding the importance of including proteins of plant origin from sources such as legumes, dried fruit or whole grains, according to Marqués.
But he considers that “excessively reducing proteins from animal sources can lead to problems such as sarcopenia (decrease in muscle mass) and iron homeostasis (alterations in the levels of this mineral in the body), in advanced ages, nuance
This is why the IMEO recommends “the consumption of quality protein sources at least twice a day, including vegetable sources, and animal sources such as fish, eggs, lean meat and red meat, on occasion”.
The general recommendations are, according to Marquès:
- Daily fruit and vegetable consumption
- Quality fat sources such as nuts, olive oil or pure cocoa
Fasting always under the control of the specialist
Regarding fasting, like Dr. Longo, the IMEO considers a daily fast of at least 12 hours normal and recommended.
“A 14-16 hour fast can also be a good and healthy option to keep it on time”, according to Marqués.
Longer fasts “we always recommend that they be done under professional supervision, as they can benefit our flora and digestive system, but not all patients tolerate them correctly”, points out this nutritionist.
IMEO advice for promoting longevity includes adequate fluid intake, mainly in the form of water. In this way, the lymphatic and renal system is helped to purify the body.
In addition, it is necessary to maintain adequate levels of quality vegetable proteins, and fruits and vegetables rich in antioxidant vitamins and minerals.
Finally, don’t forget tryptophan, an essential amino acid for the proper functioning of the body. This nutrient is present in poultry meat, eggs or blue fish.
And also magnesium, a mineral present in nuts, green leafy vegetables and whole grains. Both are essential for good rest and stress control.