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Eating for longevity: The science-backed approach

May 22, 2023

Diet plays a significant role in determining how long we can maintain good health and functional capacity. It encompasses various factors such as the composition of the food we consume, the number of calories we intake, and the duration and frequency of fasting periods. In this study, researchers have examined the effects of ageing and nutrition on simple organisms, rodents, monkeys, and humans to establish a connection between longevity and key growth and metabolic pathways. They have also explored how these pathways contribute to the ageing process and age-related diseases.

The study highlights various feasible nutritional strategies that have been proven to delay ageing and/or prevent diseases. These strategies are backed by evidence from a range of studies, including epidemiological investigations, experiments conducted on model organisms, clinical trials, and studies involving individuals who have reached the age of 100 (centenarians). It emphasises the importance of avoiding malnourishment and frailty, which can have detrimental effects on health and lifespan.

By integrating the findings from these studies, the researchers propose a “longevity diet” that adopts a multi-pillar approach tailored to an individual’s age and health status. The goal of this diet is to optimise both lifespan and health span, which refers to the period of life spent in good health without age-related diseases.

In simpler terms, what we eat and how we eat it can influence how long we stay healthy and functional. Scientists have studied the effects of ageing and nutrition on different organisms, including humans, and have identified key pathways that affect our longevity. They have also discovered certain nutritional strategies that can delay ageing and prevent diseases. To achieve optimal lifespan and health, it is important to follow a well-rounded longevity diet that considers factors like age and health status. By doing so, we can enhance both the length and quality of our lives.

Nutrition as a key player: Examining its impact on longevity, disease prevention, and treatment


Here are our key takeaways from the study, Nutrition, longevity and disease: From molecular mechanisms to interventions

Nutrition and fasting


The article highlights the importance of altering food consumption patterns, including fasting, as a potent and safe intervention to improve health, extend longevity, and maintain functional capacity.

Nutrients and longevity


The study emphasises that the relationships between nutrients and cellular responses are conserved across species, from microorganisms to humans.

However, the optimal type, quantity, and combination of nutrients for healthy longevity are still controversial.

Personalised nutrition


Evidence suggests that nutrition needs to be adjusted based on factors such as age, sex, genetics, and metabolic risk status to achieve the full beneficial effects.

Tailoring specific dietary recommendations is essential for optimising healthspan and longevity.

Caloric restriction


The article discusses the benefits of caloric restriction (CR) in rodents, including the delay of age-related diseases.

The mechanisms behind CR’s effects involve nutrient-responsive signalling genes, insulin resistance prevention, and improved immune response.

Fasting and intermittent fasting


The study explores the positive effects of fasting on disease risk factors, health, and longevity in mammals.

Intermittent fasting, in particular, is highlighted as a common form that involves fasting for 12-23 hours per day and has shown beneficial effects.

Macronutrient composition


The role of macronutrient composition and levels in lifespan and age-related diseases is examined.

The article suggests that a mid to high carbohydrate and low but sufficient protein intake, mostly plant-based with occasional consumption of pesco-vegetarian-derived proteins, may contribute to extended lifespan and health span.

Multi-pillar approach


The authors emphasise the need for a multi-disciplinary approach, including basic research, clinical trials, epidemiological studies, and investigations of individuals with exceptional longevity, to identify dietary patterns that promote healthy longevity.

The longevity diet


Based on the evidence presented, the article proposes a longevity diet characterised by a plant-based, low-protein intake with sufficient protein from legumes, moderate fat consumption from plant-based sources, and a 12-13 hour daily fasting period.

The diet aims to optimise health span and avoid malnourishment, with individualised adjustments based on age, sex, and health status.

Overall, the article underscores the importance of nutrition in promoting healthy longevity, highlighting the need for personalised dietary interventions and a multi-system approach to optimise human health span and lifespan.

Reference: Longo, V., D., Anderson R., M., Nutrition, longevity and disease: From molecular mechanisms to interventions. Cell. 2022; 185: 1455-1470. doi: 10.1016/j.cell.2022.04.002