- Researchers analyzed hundreds of studies to determine which diet improves human health and longevity.
- They found that diets low in animal protein and high in complex carbohydrates that include periods of fasting are most beneficial for long-term and lifelong health.
- However, the researchers note that their findings simply provide a basis for understanding and that in practice, diets must be tailored to individual needs and circumstances.
Around 440 B.C., the Greek physician Hippocrates said, “Let food be your medicine, and your medicine be food.”
Although treating food as medicine is a much debated concept, several recent studies have demonstrated the wisdom of this statement and how to monitor
However, what exactly constitutes an optimal diet remains controversial. Increasing evidence suggests that optimal diets may depend on the interaction of health factors, including age, gender, and genetics.
Researchers recently reviewed hundreds of nutrition studies from cellular to epidemiological perspectives to determine the “common denominator feeding pattern” for healthy longevity.
They found that diets with moderate to high levels of unrefined carbohydrates, a low but adequate amount of plant protein, and regular consumption of fish were associated with an extended lifespan and a healthy period.
Dr. Walter Longo, professor of gerontology and biological sciences at the University of Southern California, and one of the study’s authors said, Medical news today:
“First, the diet here is intended to be a nutritional lifestyle and not a ‘weight loss strategy’ even though maintaining a healthy weight is key. All aspects of the diet are associated with long-term health and longevity.”
“I am happy to see this review,” said Dr. Pankaj Kabbah, a professor of gerontology at the University of Southern California, who was not involved in the study. MNT.
“Generally when one thinks of a long life diet, the first thing that comes to mind is what we can add to our diet to live longer. This article is important to raise awareness that the most striking benefits from cross-species studies have come from diet reduction. or fasting.
– Dr. Pankaj Kabbah
The review was published in the journal
For the study, researchers analyzed hundreds of studies looking at nutrition and delayed aging in short-lived species, nutrient response pathways, calorie restriction, fasting, and diets with multiple macronutrients and composition levels, such as the keto diet.
Studies have analyzed nutrition and diet from multiple angles, from cellular and animal studies to clinical and epidemiological research looking at the lifestyles of centenarians.
Ultimately, researchers found that the “longevity diet” includes:
- A vegetarian or vegan diet of legumes and whole grains
- 30% of calories come from vegetable fats such as nuts and olive oil
- A diet low but sufficient in protein until age 65 and then eating moderate protein
- Low sugar and refined carbs
- No red or processed meat
- Limited white meat
- 12 hours of eating and 12 hours of fasting a day
- About three cycles of a five-day fasting-mimicking diet each year
The researchers further noted that rather than targeting a specific number of calories, diets should aim to keep a BMI below 25 and maintain ideal sex, age-specific body fat levels and lean body mass.
Moreover, they wrote that diets must be adapted to individual needs – especially for those over 65 – to avoid malnutrition. Those over 65, for example, may become weak due to a low-protein diet.
For those without insulin resistance or obesity, higher consumption of complex carbohydrates can reduce vulnerability in this age group and others, the researchers wrote, because it provides energy without increasing insulin and activating glucose signaling pathways.
The researchers also found that periodic fasting between the ages of 18 and 70 can reverse insulin resistance caused by a high-calorie diet and regulate blood pressure, total cholesterol and inflammation.
A recent study supports these findings. It found that changing from a typical Western diet to a diet rich in legumes, whole grains and nuts with lower red and processed meat was associated with a longer average lifespan of 8 years if started at age 60.
The researchers note that diets that include calorie and protein restriction have been consistently beneficial, both in short-lived species and in epidemiological studies and large clinical trials.
They further noted that low but adequate protein, or the recommended protein intake with high levels of legume consumption, can increase the healthy period by decreasing the intake of amino acids including methionine. Methionine has been linked to increased activity in various pro-aging cellular pathways.
When Kristen Kirkpatrick, RD, a registered dietitian at the Cleveland Clinic and consultant to Dr. Longo’s, Prolon, was asked how a long-life diet benefits health from a clinical perspective. MNT:
“A plant-based diet which, based on other similar studies, may contribute to a reduced risk of chronic diseases such as type 2 diabetes and cardiovascular disease.”
Plant-based diets have also been associated with lower levels of inflammation in multiple studies. She explained that inflammation is the basis of many diseases, and that may contribute to longevity factors as well.
The researchers conclude that their findings provide a solid foundation for future research into nutritional recommendations for healthy longevity.
When asked about the study’s limitations, Dr. Longo, Dr. Cabahi and Kirkpatrick emphasized that there is no “one size fits all” approach. They say the optimal diet may vary due to factors including gender, age, genetic makeup and any sensitivities and intolerances, such as gluten intolerance.
So Dr. Longo recommends people visit a dietitian before adopting a new diet.
Kirkpatrick added that many of her patients visit her when making diet changes to make sure they are sustainable in the long term.