‘The Longevity Diet’: Study outlines food to help you live longer

Boston, MA - June 14: People enjoy the opening of the salad bar at Lambert's Market in Bostons Dorchester after lifting of coronavirus restrictions on June 14, 2021. (Photo by David L. Ryan/The Boston Globe via Getty Images)

A new study outlines various foods people can consume to help them live longer in what’s called the "Longevity Diet."

Researchers from the University of Southern California and the University of Wisconsin recently published their findings in Cell. 

The researchers studied nutrition in various animals— such as simple organisms, rodents and monkeys— as well as humans. They then studied the effects nutrition had on aging and age-related illnesses. They also studied many popular diets that centered around calories, high-fat, low-carbohydrate, low-protein, amino acids, vegetarian, vegan and the Mediterranean diet. Scientists also tested various fasting methods. 

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"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," study author Walter Longo said in a USC article. "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."

Data showed that the optimal diet appears to have moderate to high-carbohydrate intake from non-refined sources. Consumers should also have low but sufficient protein from mostly plant-based sources and enough plant-based fats that can provide 30% of energy needs. Consumers should also have no or very low red and processed meat. 

Longo summed up the longevity diet as "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."

Researchers said that all meals should occur in an 11- to 12-hour period, which allows for a daily period of fasting in the remaining hours. They also add that a 5-day cycle of some sort of fasting every three to fourth months may reduce insulin resistance, blood pressure and other risk factors for individuals with increased disease risks.

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Researchers will now examine the longevity diet in a 500-person study that will take place in southern Italy. Longo said people looking to optimize their diet for longevity should talk with a healthcare provider that specializes in nutrition and focus on smaller changes rather than overhauling their current diet. 

"The longevity diet is not a dietary restriction intended to only cause weight loss but a lifestyle focused on slowing aging, which can complement standard healthcare and, taken as a preventative measure, will aid in avoiding morbidity and sustaining health into advanced age," he added. 

This story was reported from Los Angeles.