Episode 20 | Dr. Valter Longo, P.h.D | Try The Fasting Mimicking Diet
Why you should listen –
In my 35 years of being in the health and wellness business, I’ve experienced a lot of strategies for staying healthy and living longer. But none more convincing that what we’re talking about today.
One of the privileges I have of being a member of the board of counselors for the USC Leonard Davis School of Gerontology is going to a yearly retreat. During that retreat, some of the top scientists present their research on aging.
Our next guest, Professor Valter Longo, was one of the most talked about presenters at the retreat when he shared his latest findings on FMD…Fasting Mimicking Diets…
It appears that by periodically adopting a diet that mimics the effects of fasting may yield a host of positive effects on aging, organ function, and weight management.
Professor Valter Longo is considered one of the world’s foremost experts on prolongation of lifespan and longevity. His work and discoveries are labelled as some of the greatest achievements in science. He directs a laboratory of twenty researchers at the Andrus Gerontology Center, one of the oldest and leading centers for research on aging and age-related diseases in the country.
For over 20 years, he’s been studying the complex mechanisms which control aging. He’s an award-winning researcher, gerontology and biological sciences professor and director of the Longevity Institute at the University of Southern California.
In today’s episode, you’ll discover:
- How does intermittent fasting help slow down your biological clock?
- How often should the average person go on a fast?
- What effects does fasting have on cancer, weight, and aging?
- What are the different types of fasting, and which one is best?
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Let’s start at the beginning. I understand that you grew up in a small town in Italy that was known for the residents’ longevity.
We were very interested in the mechanisms of aging and trying to figure out why aging was occurring. First we looked at human genes and have identified several genes that are important in the aging process, but then we looked into interventions that could regulate those genes and also be safe to people. The concept of a Fasting Mimicking Diet made the most sense to me because it doesn’t require the chronic change of someone’s diet.
I remember when “fasting” meant that you would just drink water or other liquids. It was always so hard to stick to and I didn’t particularly feel it was that healthy. So, what you’re talking about is finding a routine that somebody can maintain for long periods of time, but has the benefits of fasting.
It has the benefits of fasting and the quantity of food that most people can live with – and, most importantly, it has the level of calories that most doctors can live with!
Talk about the protocol for fasting. Who should be doing it? How long should you do it? Are there specific people who should consider intermittent fasting?
In consultation with a doctor or a registered dietician, it’s something that most people should consider. We have done some clinical trials that cover a wide range of ages and we’ve seen some very positive results. Our experiments on mice have been very positive in not only slowing down the aging process, but also rejuvenating their immune and nervous systems. In our human trials, we saw sugar level drop along with markers that are associated with high rates of cancer. While it might be ambitious, I envision that Fasting Mimicking Diets will be part of the physician’s toolkit within the next 10 years. We’re already seeing hundreds of doctors in the United States adopting this approach.
I like the way that you say “part of the toolkit”. I heard you say that you saw positive results with eight days a month – that’s really fascinating. Can you talk a little bit about why it’s important to let the body rest at certain times of the month?
Fasting has been around for a long time, but it’s always been as criticized as it has been praised. Only recently, with recent clinical studies, we’re seeing some changes in how the medical profession views it.
During periods of famine, the body has to save energy. In order to save that energy, it has to get rid of a lot of cells and some of the components in the cells. Think of it as a train running out of fuel, so they start to burn the wooden seats so it can make it all the way to its destination (and rebuild the train). The incredible part isn’t the fasting – a lot of people that it’s negative since it kills cells – it’s when you refuel. That’s when everything gets rebuilt! It looks a lot like the rebuilding process from when we’re first born. It’s extremely coordinated because it’s a process that’s been evolving for billions of years.
What nutrients should you actually be ingesting while fasting?
Fasting is extremely powerful. I think it’s very important that doctors and dietitians should be very involved in this process. I can say that the diet is low in protein, vegan, low in sugars, high in complex carbohydrates, and high in good fats. Other than that, there are two ways of doing this: You can get ProLon (which you can find at http://l-nutra.com/) or you can go to a doctor or nutritionist with experience with fasting and refer them to our paper. They’ll help you design a diet that will be effective.
Can you maintain your muscle mass and energy levels while fasting?
Yes and no. While you’re on the Fasting Mimicking Diet, you will lose muscle mass. The difference is that once you stop fasting, the fat is not rebuilt – especially the abdominal fat. The muscle does get regenerated. In the end, either no loss of muscle or minimal loss. This is remarkable because you’re not going to see this in almost any chronic diet that you can think of.
In terms of energy, we found that people had various levels of energy during our clinical trials. We recommend that the Fasting Mimicking Diet is undertaken when your workload is lower than normal. After fasting, people report more energy and more mental clarity. I’d also say that about 80% of people report that their skin feels better, too.
For more information on Dr. Valter Longo and the Fasting Mimicking Diet, visit his Facebook page or www.l-nutra.com.