Most diets are designed for weight loss. As anyone who has spent any time reading our blog knows, we’re not fans of diets. We think the best approach to weight management is a healthy, varied diet and moderation. Diets with strict rules and restrictions rarely work long-term and can be deeply unhealthy. While there are exceptions, overall, we’re not fans. But, we do understand that some people thrive following diets, so we like to explore diet trends and learn more about them to judge if they might be helpful or harmful.
The longevity diet is interesting because its primary aim isn’t to cause weight loss but a longer life. That’s different from most diets making the rounds. It is research-based and comes from USC and the Univ. of Wisconsin. It has many facets, including restricting calories, what to eat and when to eat it.
“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 Prof. Valter Longo of USC. “By adopting an approach based on over a century of research, we can begin to define a longevity diet that represents a solid foundation for nutritional recommendations and for future research.”
Prof. Longo and his colleagues reviewed hundred of animal and human studies of nutrition, disease and longevity. With that data, they came up with a diet. They believe the perfect diet has a moderate to high amount of complex carbs, sufficient protein from plant sources and plant-based fats for 30 percent of a person’s daily calories. They also say people should eat within an 11-12 hour period of the day. They claim that five days of fasting every three to four months could improve blood sugar health and blood pressure.
Prof. Longo said that if you follow the diet, you will eat “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 diet is semi-vegan, semi-Mediterranean and relatively rigid.
“The longevity diet isn’t a dietary restriction designed only to cause weight loss, but a lifestyle focused on slowing down aging, which can supplement standard health services, and through prevention will help prevent morbidity and maintain health until old age,” said Prof. Longo.
The diet hasn’t been tried yet. The next step in their research is a 500-person study in southern Italy. Participants will follow the diet to test the results. We’re interested to know the results. But, the fact that it is so regimented is a little overwhelming. And the fact that no one has tried it yet makes it odd that so many headlines claim it’s a wonder diet.
If this diet sounds interesting, we suggest trying the Mediterranean diet. Its health benefits and safety are proven. Before launching into something buzz-worthy based wholly on theoretical research, the tried and true method might be best!