Nutrition, longevity and disease

From molecular mechanisms to interventions

Valter D. Longo & Rozalyn M. Anderson
Cell, ISSN: 0092-8674, Vol: 185, Issue: 9, Page: 1455-1470; 2022

USC Leonard Davis School of Gerontology Professor Valter Longo leads a review of research in animals and humans to identify how nutrition affects aging and a healthy lifespan. The review proposed that “the longevity diet” taken as a preventative measure could aid in avoiding morbidity, sustaining health into advanced age.

In an article that includes a literature review published April 28 in Cell, Longo and coauthor Rozalyn Anderson of the University of Wisconsin, examined a “range of nutrition research from studies in laboratory animals to epidemiological research in human populations to provide a clearer picture of the best diet for a longer, healthier life,” said Professor Longo.

The authors report that the key characteristics of the optimal diet appear to be moderate to high carbohydrate intake from non-refined sources, low but sufficient protein from largely plant-based sources, and enough plant-based fats to provide about 30 percent of energy needs. Ideally, the day’s meals would all occur within a window of 11-12 hours, allowing for a daily period of fasting. Additionally, the article stated that a 5-day cycle of a fasting or fasting mimicking diet every 3-4 months may also help reduce insulin resistance, blood pressure and other risk factors for individuals with increased disease risks.

For people who are looking to optimize their diet for longevity, Dr. Longo said it’s important to work with a healthcare provider specialized in nutrition on personalizing a plan focusing on smaller changes that can be adopted for life, rather than big changes that could cause a harmful major loss of body fat and lean mass, followed by a regain of the fat lost once the person abandons the very restrictive diet.

“By adopting a multi-system and multi-pillar approach based on over a century of research, we can begin to define a longevity diet that represents a solid foundation for nutritional recommendation and for future research”, said Longo. “The longevity diet is not a dietary restriction intended to only cause weight loss, but a lifestyle focused on slowing aging, which can complement standard healthcare and, taken as a preventative measure, aid in avoiding morbidity and sustaining health into advanced age.”