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[LONG LIVE THE DIET!] Optimal diet to boost health span revealed

The results of a comprehensive literature search and analysis have revealed the key characteristics of a longevity diet. "We explored the link between nutrients, fasting, genes, and longevity in short-lived species, and connected these links to clinical and epidemiological studies in primates and humans, including centenarians," said Valto Longo  of the University of Southern California's School of Gerontology ."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."

The analysis included popular diets such as the restriction of total calories, the high-fat and low-carbohydrate ketogenic diet, vegetarian and vegan diets, and the Mediterranean diet. It also included a review of different forms of fasting. In addition to examining lifespan data from epidemiological studies, the team linked these studies to specific dietary factors affecting several longevity-regulating genetic pathways shared by animals and humans that also affect markers for disease risk, including levels of insulin, C-reactive protein, insulin-like growth factor 1, and cholesterol.

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% 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, and a five-day cycle of a fasting or fasting-mimicking diet every three-to-four months to help reduce insulin resistance, blood pressure and other risk factors for individuals with increased disease risks.  Longo added.

Eating for longevity in real life, Longo said, means "lots of legumes, whole grains, and vegetables; some fish; no red meat or processed meat and very low white meat; low sugar and refined grains; good levels of nuts and olive oil, and some dark chocolate."

The full article compares the diet to existing popular approaches and highlights the need to adapt the diet to individuals based on sex, age, health status, and genetics.

To read the full study, “Nutrition, longevity and disease: From molecular mechanisms to interventions,” click here

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