Mostly, diets are punitive and joyless exercises in self-loathing. They are typically used at the worst times of the year when it is dark and cold. Nobody celebrates a diet. There is no endorphin high, like when you exercise. It’s all stick, no carrot cake.
But what if the goal of a “diet” wasn’t weight loss, but rather significant, measurable improvements in health and longer, healthier lives? In fact, studies in rats and mice show that a restricted diet that includes a combination of fasting leads to longer life and better metabolic health.
like dr Valter Longo of the University of Southern California writes in his book: The Longevity Diet“It is indeed possible to improve the body’s protective systems, or to make these systems work longer, so that we never encounter many and suffer diseases not at the age of 40-50, but at the age of 60-70 or even better of them at all.”
The thesis states that “the food we eat is the most effective intervention available to prevent and treat disease”. He foresees an age when the elderly can die “healthy, without disease.” He cites studies conducted in his lab in which rats and mice on a longevity diet live up to 40 percent longer than their counterparts on the standard diet and suffer fewer diseases.
The mechanisms driving what he calls “programmed longevity” are “cellular protection and regeneration.” In theory, this approach could add 10 years to life for women and 13 years for men. but New scientist reported, his demands are not for the faint of heart.
“The key ingredients of this longevity diet — yet to be tested in studies — are sufficient calorie restriction to stay lean, a daily regimen of very mild, time-restricted eating, a few five-day cycles of mimic fasting each year, and a mostly plant-based diet.” .
However, fasting is only one aspect of this regime. dr Longo recommends following a mostly vegan but occasionally pescetarian diet, controlling protein intake, minimizing protein from animal sources (like meat and cheese), eating lots of vegetables, eliminating high fat and high sugar, increasing good fat and complex carbohydrates maximize and add beans and nuts.
Individuals should decide whether to eat two or three meals a day based on age and weight, and consider a multivitamin to ensure adequate nutrition and ensure the body is able to heal and protect itself .
In addition, he advocates eating foods consistent with our “ancestry,” following a time-restricted diet, and practicing “regular extended fasting” while controlling weight and girth.
On sugar – citing studies showing that “high levels of sugar make heart cells in mice more susceptible to damage and death during chemotherapy” – he undoubtedly agrees with current orthodoxy.
where dr Slightly different, Longo, are the protein recommendations: “Our epidemiological study of 6,000 Americans suggested that eating a high-protein diet was associated with elevated levels of the pro-aging growth factor IGF1, a 75 percent increased risk of all-cause mortality, and a three to four-fold increased cancer mortality risk compared to the low-protein, plant-based diet recommended here,” he explains.
“A Harvard study of nearly 130,000 physicians and nurses also shows that a low-carbohydrate diet high in animal fat and protein is associated with increases in all-cause mortality from cancer and cardiovascular disease, a finding consistent with our research agrees.”
Although there is growing evidence for the effectiveness of time-restricted dieting or intermittent fasting, and the health metrics cited in the studies do appear compelling, the longevity diet requires many levers to be pulled simultaneously. It’s high maintenance.
“Early time-restricted eating, effectively not eating snacks in the evening, and finishing eating by 5 or 6 p.m. can be a pretty big lever related to metabolic health.”
That being said, what comes first in terms of weight loss and metabolic benefits? Which is the chicken and which is the egg? An eight-week Irish study looked at the effects of time-restricted eating on performance — and found none. The DCU study, published in Medicine & Science in Sport & Exerciseshowed a weight reduction of 1.1 kg for the top athletes – but no noticeable change in metabolic values.
“In summary, time-restricted eating resulted in some changes in energy intake, slight shifts in carbohydrate intake,” explains Dr. Brendan Egan, associate professor of exercise and exercise physiology at the DCU School of Health and Human Performance, and one of the study’s authors.
“The timed group lost an average of a pound, but the reduction in energy intake more or less predicted it. None of the performance outcomes were affected through the end of the eight-week study. So it wasn’t what you normally see in rodents. That didn’t surprise us.”
But outside of the realm of peak performance, according to Dr. Egan’s successes, although not quite as impressive as the rodent results. “The results are impressive for those who are overweight, obese or have type 2 diabetes. As a handy tool, it’s pretty easy to ask someone to narrow their eating window rather than reducing calories or changing their diet.”
Some models offer better results than others, he adds. “Early time-restricted eating, effectively skipping evening snacks, and finishing dinner at 5 or 6 p.m. can be a pretty big lever in the context of metabolic health, especially since many people in the western world have worse evening habits, whether it’s alcohol or junk food trades.
“With these big questions, I have to switch back and forth between research and study and practice in the real world. Obviously the results we saw did not reflect what is happening in rodents in terms of aerobic performance, but there is good reason for this given the differences between species. Mice and rats are what we call preclinical models. They allow us to do certain types of experiments, but they are still models. They are not perfect representations.”
So the current model of time-limited eating may not make us healthier in the short-term—certainly without the added requirements of Dr. Longo – but can we rely on time-restricted eating to lead to weight loss?
It depends, says Professor Carel Le Roux, professor of experimental pathology at UCD and consultant in metabolic medicine at Imperial College London. “It is difficult to separate the effects of intermittent fasting from the effects of intermittent fasting-induced weight loss.
“It’s certainly true to say that there is tremendous enthusiasm for fasting right now, and it’s an effective treatment for at least two in 10 people who respond very well to an intermittent fasting approach with excellent results.” But about eight out of ten will not respond well, and that just means fasting is not the right treatment for them.”
Then there’s the insulin question. Successive dieting over the past few years has shown how insulin production can lead to a spiral of negative outcomes. But weight loss also reduces insulin production, so does it matter which regimen leads to weight loss, or does it have to be fasting?
“You have to look at the scale of the effects,” adds Prof. Le Roux. “For a 5 percent weight loss, the effect on insulin secretion is massive in both the fasting and postprandial states. But the effect will not be the same for the person who does intermittent fasting and does not lose weight. You will have some benefits, but not the same. “The person who follows a completely different diet and achieves a 5 percent weight loss will also see benefits in insulin reduction.”
The theories of Dr. Longo are intriguing, and experts agree they deserve further study, ideally in a more clinical setting. But when it comes to a regimen that improves health outcomes and reduces the risk of chronic disease, the best thing is one that provides long-term, sustainable weight loss.
“What happens if I get people to lose weight?” asks Prof. Le Roux. “What is your heart attack risk, your cancer risk, your diabetes risk? If you lose 15 or 20 percent of your body weight, we can bet [type two] Diabetes in remission. For 80 percent of patients who lose 15 percent of their weight, the risk of developing diabetes is reduced by 90 percent. If you lose 20 to 25 percent of your weight, you reduce your risk of heart attack by 25 percent. And if you reduce your weight by 25 percent and you’re female, you reduce your risk of cancer by 40 percent — that’s all very powerful.”
So we can eat to reduce our risk of serious illness, but can it guarantee longer life? Maybe in a century or two.
https://www.independent.ie/life/health-wellbeing/health-features/the-longevity-diet-can-you-eat-to-add-10-healthy-years-to-your-life-41980339.html The Longevity Diet: Can You Eat To Add 10 Healthy Years To Your Life?