The search for sources of eternal youth and long life has accompanied humanity for centuries. at least as far as to longevity, Scientists believe they have found a very important factor: the proper diet. Unlike genes or certain life circumstances, it can be influenced.
Increasingly, it is not just a question of what goes on the plate, in what quantity and quality, but also when. In a review article published in the scientific journal Cell, American aging researchers Valter Longo and Rozalyn Anderson summarize the state of knowledge.
Friends of calorie bombs like burger, fries and soda menus, or comforts of the soul like white chocolate must now be very strong: the duo talk about better limiting energy intake and fasting more often to minimize disease risk and increase life expectancy.
Three fundamental characteristics for an optimal feeding
Similarly, Longo and Anderson outline The 3 essential characteristics of an optimal diet: medium or high carbohydrate intake (45-60%) from high-quality sources; little but enough protein from mainly vegetable sources; and 25 to 35% mainly vegetable fat.
Translated into everyday cooking, this means: “Lots of legumes, whole grains, and vegetables; some fish; no red or processed meat and very little white meat; little sugar and refined grains; good amounts of nuts and olive oil and some dark chocolate,” Longo says, according to a statement.
Daily window from eleven to twelve hours
Also, according to scientists, it’s optimal to eat only within an 11- to 12-hour daily window and have multiple fasting periods throughout the year, he says.
Longevity is Longo’s life’s work: he is director of the Longevity Institute at the University of Southern California and the author of several books. On his website he gives tips for staying young and lists so-called recipes for longevity. They’re likely to disappoint meat lovers, but they don’t seem entirely unfriendly to pleasure, either: couscous with fish, Tuscan bread salad, and pasta with aubergines. Longo also founded a company with products for fasting concepts, which he states in the study’s appendix.
Longo and Anderson emphasize in their work that an anti-aging diet must be tailored to the individual. There is no solution that is as suitable for a fit 20-year-old as it is for a 60-year-old with metabolic disease. Gender, age, lifestyle, health status and genes need to be taken into account, they write. For example, people over 65 may need more protein, they say.
For Kristina Norman, researcher on aging at the German Institute for Human Nutrition, these adjustments are a very important point: “In old age it is often difficult to eat enough protein. An insufficient amount can lead to loss of muscle mass and, consequently, an increased risk of falls and fractures. So eating a little more meat than is generally recommended may be advisable.”
The author duo examines a wide spectrum of work: starting from studies on yeast fungi, worms or flies to clinical data and modelling. In addition, there are findings about traditional nutrition in places where many people live to a very old age.
“A study assigning a group to the Longo-recommended diet and comparing life expectancy at the end with a control group would be very difficult to carry out. That’s why the authors approach it by putting together different pieces of evidence,” Norman said. He considers that Longo’s and Anderson’s theses are convincingly proven.
Parallels with pre-existing recommendations
There are many parallels, he said, with well-known recommendations, such as those of the German Nutrition Society, and also with a menu that scientists long ago proposed for a healthy diet that is also environmentally friendly.
“Contrary to popular belief, healthy eating recommendations don’t change every few years. In general, they are very stable,” said Norman. «Longo’s study may be considered old, but the issue has been revisited and is increasingly supported by the evidence.»
“It is better to take little energy than too much”
For Bernhard Watzl, former director of the Institute for Physiology and Biochemistry of Nutrition at the Max Rubner Institute, the review demonstrates above all that the quantity and quality of nutrition are crucial for a long life.
“It is better to take little energy than too much. He explains the underlying mechanisms in the body: “The more a system is challenged, the more it wears out. It is much more important to challenge the body at a low level.
However, the data available so far does not convince both Watzl and Longo: «Fasting is only something for people who cannot limit their energy consumption,» he says. In that case, temporarily abstaining from food could help resensitize certain receptors in the body.
In general, it’s never too late to eat a healthy diet throughout life, Watzl stresses. However, in the case of some diseases that develop in the body for decades, the sooner the better.
Benefits even in people of 60 or 80 years
Longo responded to a dpa question that, according to a study, even people in their 60s or 80s could increase their life expectancy by several years if many of the suggestions he also propagated were applied. According to the study, the greatest benefits would be obtained by eating more legumes, whole grains and nuts, and less red and processed meat.
Regarding the quality of food, Watzl considers some habits in this country to be positive: eating wholemeal bread or muesli, for example. “However, too much cheese or sausage is quickly added to the bread. Or you eat light bread.” Watzl also criticizes highly processed foods, because of the additives, but also because of the rapid availability of nutrients. This overloads the metabolism.
In general, Longo and Anderson advise small changes in diet and discourage radical changes. Many people are probably familiar with the problem with dieting: If the plan is too restrictive, you won’t be able to stick with it long-term. The result is a yoyo effect.
FEW (dpa, University of Southern California)
It may interest you:
* Nun turned 109 in New York: she is the second oldest nun in the US * Anti-inflammatory foods that the longest living people consume daily * 5 foods that help reduce the risk of premature death