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Valter Longo, a researcher studying longevity in Italy for nearly 20 years, has been interested in living longer since his childhood in regions like Molochio, Calabria. Officially starting his research in 1989, Longo is now the director of the Longevity and Cancer Laboratory at the IFOM Institute of Molecular Oncology in Milan, as well as the director of the Longevity Institute of the Leonard Davis School of Gerontology at the University of Southern California – Los Angeles. Longo’s work in Italy is particularly relevant as the country is home to regions where people live longer than most, such as Sardinia, designated as a “Blue Zone” by longevity researcher Dan Buettner. Longo’s research has led him to conclude that diet is the most important factor in living longer.

Longo suggests a longevity diet that combines elements of the Okinawa diet and the Mediterranean diet. This diet is mostly vegan, with relatively low fruit intake but high vegetable intake, along with legumes, tree nuts, whole grains, and fish three or four times a week. Between the ages of 20 and 70, Longo recommends avoiding red and white meat, limiting egg consumption to two or three per week, and consuming very little cheese and other animal-based products. He also suggests limiting certain foods that he calls the five problematic Ps, including potatoes, pasta, pizza, protein, and bread, due to their potential to quickly convert into sugar.

In addition to following a specific diet, Longo believes that fasting can also contribute to longevity. He recommends a daily fasting period of 12 hours, such as eating between 8 a.m. and 8 p.m. or 7 a.m. and 7 p.m. Longo is an advocate of periodically implementing a fasting-mimicking diet for five days at a time, which involves consuming a diet high in unsaturated fats and low in overall calories, protein, and carbohydrates. A recent study by Longo and his team found that in mice, adherence to the fasting-mimicking diet was associated with reduced biological age and a lower risk of diseases like cancer, diabetes, and heart conditions. Longo emphasizes that these periods of fasting are crucial for maintaining functionality and staying younger.

Overall, Longo’s research points to the importance of diet and fasting in promoting longevity. By following a longevity diet that combines elements of different cultures, limiting certain foods that can quickly convert to sugar, and incorporating fasting periods, individuals may be able to extend their lifespan and reduce the risk of age-related diseases. Longo’s work highlights the potential impact of lifestyle choices on health and longevity, providing valuable insights for those interested in living longer and healthier lives.

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