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The Longevity Diet – Book Review

This book is by the Italian biologist Dr Valter Longo, PhD, best known for his 5 Day Fasting-Mimicking diet. Here he details the various factors that can contribute to a longer life, and also those that are artificially shortening them.

The topics range from nutrition to exercise, sample studies of populations that age well, as well as his famous fasting protocol and its impact on diabetes, Alzheimer’s and more. Dr Longo has decades of experience which puts him in an almost unique position to critique the current research and provide a best estimate of the behaviours that extend life. It concludes with a two week sample meal plan and also features the fasting-mimicking diet protocol.

Book eighteen is…

The Longevity Diet by Dr Valter Longo, PhD

PRO TIP: Take notes! When you read a book, use a blank sheet of paper as a bookmark. Write down any interesting facts and information from the book. This condenses a whole book into 3-4 pages of key notes that are important and relevant to you. 

My Notes

  • Curing cancer or cardiac disease would only increase average lifespan by ~3 years
  • Amino acids activate ageing via IGF-1, TOR-S6K pathways
  • Sugar activates ageing via PKA and RAS pathways

The Five Pillars

  1. Juventology
  2. Epidemiology – the study of cause and risk factors for disease in defined populations
  3. Clinical studies – RCT
  4. Centenarian studies
  5. Study of Complex Systems

“When you look at multi-disciplinary studies you realise the high protein, high saturated fat, low carb diet is one of the worst for your health”

  • 50-90% of US adults don’t get enough Vitamin D, E, A, K, Magnesium, Potassium or Calcium.
  • Calorie restriction of 20% or more has as many negative effects as positive, when done for long periods

The Longevity Diet Outlined

  • Pescetarian – limit mercury-rich fish to 3x week, close to 100% plant and fish based.
  • Lower protein intake – 0.31-0.36g/lb body-weight.
  • 30 grams of protein in one of the meals to maximise protein synthesis
  • No red meat, white meat or cheese (though cheese pops up in the 2 week plan)
  • Minimise bad fats and sugars
  • Rich in olive oil, salmon, almonds, walnuts, low in saturates, hydrogenated and trans fats
  • High complex carbs – whole bread, legumes, vegetables.
  • Limited pasta, bread, rice, fruit and fruit juice
  • Multi-vitamin every 2-3 days and Omega 3 soft gel to cover your bases
  • Two or three meals a day plus a snack
  • Time-restricted eating to an 11-12 hour window and no eating 3-4 hours before bed
  • The macro-nutrient split is around 11-12% Protein, 50-60% Carbohydrate, 30-40% Fat
  • It’s possibly beneficial to follow an ancestral diet, selecting foods available to people in your part of the world
  • The lower protein intake is mainly beneficial for the under 65’s, and it seems higher protein is better thereafter

Exercise for Longevity

  • Fast-paced walking 1 hour/day
  • Cardio 30-40 minutes every other day, and 2 hours over the weekend
  • 150 minutes of moderate intensity exercise per week
  • Include some weight training every week
  • 30 grams protein 1-2 hours post workout in a meal with low carbs (I took this to mean on top of the regular diet, meaning 30 grams more than days you aren’t lifting weights)

I am currently following the Longevity Diet and you can see my Food Diary by clicking here. Here’s my favourite meal so far: Focaccia (1/2 with Extra Virgin Olive Oil, 1/2 with Berry Jam) and Rye Crispbreads topped with Feta Cheese and Tomato.